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flick pick | The Daytrippers 1995
Directed + written by: Greg Mottola
Starring: Hope Davis, Pat McNamara, Anne Meara, Parker Posey, Liev Shreiber
Language: english
Look for it at the video store under:
drama, comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
darkly comic, witty
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5

Plot synopsis Eliza and Louis have a solid, happy marriage – or so she thinks, until the morning after Thanksgiving, when she suddenly realizes she might not know her husband as well as she thinks she does. Eliza’s cheerfully picking up the house, just after her husband’s kissed her good-bye and left for work. While tidying up in their bedroom, Eliza stumbles across a note that’s fallen down next to the dresser. It sounds like a love letter, and the only thing she knows about it is that it’s not written for her or by her. Stunned at the discovery and too shocked to know how to deal with it alone, she drives on over to her parents’ house, to ask her mom for some much-needed advice. Her sister Jo and Jo’s boyfriend Carl are home for the holidays, and along with Mom and Dad, getting ready to make a little trip into the city. And since Louis works in the city, Mom suggests that Eliza join them, so that she can get an explanation from Louis in person (telephones, Mom reasons, make it too easy for a person to lie). This, then, is how the whole family ends up packed into a clunky wood-paneled station wagon on a cold winter’s day, making their way from the suburbs into Manhattan, and thus turning Eliza’s search for the truth about her husband into a group endeavor. But on their scavenger hunt for clues, the family ends up learning as much about Louis as they do about each other – and how they really feel about one another as a family.

Review For the vast majority of The Daytrippers, nothing really happens: it’s a slow talky movie that doesn’t care much about plot or visuals to tell its story. Eliza frets, Jo jokes, Carl bores everyone in the car to tears with his intellectual pretensions, Mom pokes her nose in where it doesn’t belong, and Dad tries desperately to ignore all the chaos while navigating the vehicle. It’s a family doing their best to pretend they don’t actually drive each other nuts, a dysfunctional family in denial of its flaws. You can feel the tension slowly building, even when you’re laughing at each of the family member’s little idiosyncracies. The characters are each so well-realized in their peculiarities, and hilariously reminiscent of people you probably know in real life, that you can’t help but be a little charmed by them even when they’re being terribly, obliviously, annoying – the entire cast is sublimely good, from Anne Meara as the overbearing Mom, to Pat McNamara as the Dad who refuses to get involved, to Liev Schreiber as the pseudo-intellectual boyfriend, and most especially Hope Davis as Eliza, in whose expressive face you really understand that the laughter and jokes actually hide deeper, darker emotions. The emotional drama lurking beneath the surface of normal, amusing, family squabbling is so subtle that when Eliza finally does discover her husband’s little secret, and both the resulting revelation and the accumulated stresses of a day spent trapped in a cold vehicle together, cause the family’s façade of civility to finally erupt, it’s like a little kick in the stomach – both to us, the viewers, and to each of the family members themselves. The Daytrippers proves that sometimes, good comedy comes out of sad truths. —reviewed by Y. Sun

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