Articles, Film Reviews

Stretch (2014)

The digital age has provided rising filmmakers with a chance for their films to be seen by larger audiences through do-it-yourself online distribution. But as video on demand (VOD) services are becoming such a financially viable option for film distributors, even big name filmmakers are having their films released exclusively through VOD platforms. Such is the case with Joe Carnahan’s Stretch, though this wasn’t the filmmaker’s original intention.

Originally slated for an early 2014 release, Stretch’s theatrical distribution ended up getting dropped by Universal Pictures. After exploring different options, the studio decided on a direct-to-digital method of release. This works well for the film and even reflects its eccentric plot.

The film follows an out of luck limo driver named Stretch (Patrick Wilson), who owes $6,000 to a Mexican mobster by the end of the night. With the chance to receive a substantial tip from a wealthy, cocaine-induced client (Chris Pine), Stretch is propelled into a wildly violent and humorous voyage through the streets of Los Angeles. Along the way, he is taken over by countless conflicts including interactions with fictional versions of David Hasselhoff and Ray Liotta and the wacky ghost of a fellow limo driver (Ed Helms).

It’s a fun, action-packed ride, especially with Wilson in the driver’s seat as the titular character. He is the kind of actor that I think deserves more recognition for his versatile acting resume, which is represented here in many ways. One might say he owns the space he’s in, but I think he conquers it. As do many of his co-stars.

Sometimes I think that films with smaller budgets have the most fun. But it’s really the enthusiasm of the cast and crew that make or break a film. And it is very evident that Carnahan directed this film with passion and excitement, showing just how willing the filmmaker is to adapt to different budget sizes and still deliver a piece of entertainment.

Stretch is the kind of film that will find a strong cult following, so the video-on-demand release is perfectly suitable. It has the sort of neo-noir style of Drive (2011) and the conflicted complexity of a Kafka story, all the while, covered in the feral landscape of a crime film. But what makes Stretch so entertaining is its out of whack humor. I mean, who can’t resist Helms as an insightful Jacob Marley-esque specter?

I’m not sure who will seek out this film, which is why I am telling you to take the risk of seeing it for yourself. It may be unbalanced at times, but it does what it’s set out to do (in a healthy 95 minutes, might I add). Outrageous but mature, Stretch is more entertaining than most of this past summer’s blockbusters.


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