Picks and Pans Review: The Long Way Home
updated 03/02/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/02/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST
Without the star power of Jack Lemmon, this road picture might not make it out of the garage. Lemmon plays a 75-year-old Kansas widower who gets a letter from a onetime girlfriend (Betty Garrett) whom he hasn't seen in about half a century. Next, he has a chance encounter with a lively woman in her 20s (Sarah Paulson) who is driving cross-country to her home in Carmel, Calif. Lemmon's old flame lives in nearby Monterey, so he impulsively tags along. After Paulson's car is disabled in a mishap, the odd couple hitchhike west, while Lemmon's sons (Garwin Sanford and Tom Butler) and daughter-in-law (Kristin Griffith) worry and trade banalities back in their small town. ("You think you know somebody," Sanford says of his father. "Come to find out, you don't know him at all.") The journey is surprisingly uneventful; what follows is unsurprisingly bittersweet. Paulson gets some sad family news, while Lemmon and Garrett pick up pretty much where they left off. "You still take lots of sugar?" she asks, but we sense there's more than coffee brewing between them.
Praise Lemmon for giving the old man likability with a layer of crust. The problem is the mundane script and a touch of unreality. Something tells us we're not in Kansas (or California)—maybe because the film was shot in Vancouver.