Don’t Make Me Go movie review: Look out for emotional father-daughter chemistry and don't ask for more

With a rather strong premise, there’s plenty of space for the writing to play with the characters, but the screenplay doesn’t quite do justice

author_img Anusha Sundar Published :  24th July 2022 09:37 PM   |   Published :   |  24th July 2022 09:37 PM
A still from Don’t Make Me Go

A still from Don’t Make Me Go

You are not going to like the way this story ends, but I think you would like the story,” is how Hannah Marks’s latest directorial Don’t Make Me Go starts off. As it warns, we don’t like the ending of this story, but the problem is, that the storytelling isn’t particularly riveting.

The plot is simple. Max (John Cho) is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and wishes to take his teen daughter Wally (Mia Isaac) to his school reunion, much to her chagrin. The road trip, however, is just a smoke screen as Max wants to use it to reunite Wally with her estranged mother Nicole (Jen Van Epps).
As they embark on the trip, there are ample opportunities for them to bond. We see Max teach Wally how to dance and drive a car. There is also a hilarious sequence where they accidentally land up at a nude beach. This is followed by an emotionally stirring scene where Wally learns about Max’s sickness. There is a bit of subversion with how Nicole reacts to the reentry of Wally and Max into her life. These set pieces almost make you root for the Max-Wally relationship. I say ‘almost’ because the scenes aren’t exactly fleshed out properly to leave a profound impact.

With a rather strong premise, there’s plenty of space for the writing to play with the characters, but the screenplay doesn’t quite do justice. The characters are rather unidimensional. They are neither engaging nor do they unlock a new dimension in the Max-Wally equation. After a point, the narrative still shows promise, but we are no longer emotionally invested.

The writing doesn’t dig deeper into their personalities either. The mix of ethnicity in the Max household isn’t explored well enough. There is a line that has Wally talking about her life goals and expressing her wish to see the world and “wanting more culture”, but it’s just a line, not a well-explored emotional angle.
The first two acts are still fairly manageable, but it’s the last act when things truly go out of hand, with a twist that doesn’t quite work. The performance of John Cho is instrumental in keeping you invested. His emotional portrayal of a father, and his chemistry with Mia Issac, is the saving grace of this film.

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