Passenger Side Movie Review
Michael (Scott) is annoyed when his ex-addict brother Tobey (Bissonnette) turns up on the morning of his birthday and asks him to drive him around for the day since his car has broken down. Tobey seems to have a vague mission, and he drags Michael with him on various errands and strange encounters around Los Angeles and out to Joshua Tree. It's like a scavenger hunt that's somehow related to Tobey's girlfriend Theresa (Tunney), a fellow ex-junkie who Michael doesn't want to talk about.
The story moves at a meandering pace, building a warm, likeable bond between these two sardonic young men who speak with the exact same sense of witty banter. In other words, the script never really develops their distinct personalities; their differences are all superficial. But this adds an intriguing wrinkle to the overall tone of the film, and also perhaps echoes the autobiographical element since writer-director Matt and actor Joel are brothers.
Scott and Bissonnette are terrific in their roles, using the lively dialog to bounce off each other perfectly. Their interaction is extremely amusing, and the fact that we're not quite sure what they're up to together makes us want to see the story through to the end. The people they meet along the way are a little contrived, offering often hilarious pieces to the puzzle that are more philosophical than logical. Indeed, some of the diversions along the way feel a bit gratuitous (such as the porn set they visit in the Valley).
But watching these brothers rediscover their relationship is both engaging and entertaining. And the film is inventively shot with off-centre camera angles, snappy editing and a song score that turns the film into a series of comically moody vignettes. It also has a rather wonderful sense of Los Angeles geography, from the trendy Echo Park to the low desert, back into the suburbs and out to the Pacific, encountering hookers, dealers, immigrants, seers, drunks, porn stars and some hilariously dim bimbos along the way. Only in L.A.