TWO WAYS TO GO WEST – It’s About Friendship And Stuff…

Here at Salty HQ – AKA “The Cob” we love a good indie flick. So when the invite came in to review a screener for an upcoming release, we were stoked! TWO WAYS TO GO WEST looks like it’s part dramedy, part buddy comedy and a little rough around the edges, but a good all rounder. Enjoy Kernel Ehab’s Review.

TWO WAYS TO GO WEST is yet to be classified, it runs for 80mins and is available for streaming now. It’s released by Global Digital Releasing.
– Kernel Claire

BY EHAB RASHED

SYNOPSIS – BACHELOR PARTY – WE’RE ALL GOING TO VEGAS!

Three childhood friends arrive in Las Vegas to send one of them off with one last hurrah! Gavin (James Liddell, who also wrote the screenplay) reconnects with old friends Marty (Paul Gennaro – CRUISE, TELL ME I LOVE YOU) and Shane (Drew Kenney – VERONICA MARS, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL ) and it’s clear from the start that these guys are close. Shane is about to get hitched and at first glance, this looks like it’s going to be a night of drunken shenanigans. Afraid not! What transpires is a commendable if somewhat unpolished story about the complexities of male friendship and how life can pick away at you. 

INITIAL THOUGHTS:

I have a real affinity for indie films. The Independent Spirit Awards are always more interesting to me than the Oscars. I don’t need wise cracking CGI racoons or Vin Diesel outsmarting international super villains with his Datsun. Don’t get me wrong – I love them! But I can love many things…..but never anchovies (do you hear me you brine soaked devil-fish?!?!). Gimme some people talking in a room every day and twice on Sundays! That’s my kind of movie.  

THE WRITING IS THOROUGHLY DECENT:

The premise of “the boys are going to Vegas” isn’t new. THE HANGOVER did it to tremendous laughs and horrendous sequels a few years ago. We wouldn’t have MARVEL and THE MANDALORIAN architect John Favreau unless he made SWINGERS. And I wouldn’t have been been scared to death of the underlying cautionary tale in VERY BAD THINGS (drugs, strippers, Vegas, cage fighting, concealing murder and overt greed make for fun hijinks though).

TWO WAYS, however takes a different approach to the trope. Instead of letting the story unfold visually, it’s done auditorily. It’s achieved completely through dialogue and random flashbacks. Liddell has an ear for chat. I had no problems believing these three were old friends that had a heavy history. It starts off a little rough, but it’s not easy to write believable, flowy dialogue. There are moments when it feels clunky and forced. But overall the narrative gets going and I found myself getting drawn into what these guys were talking about . 

SHOW, DON’T TELL:

Now if you look up the film on IMDB the top two billed actresses are Levy Tran (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, THE FIRST PURGE) and mafia movie genre icon Katherine Narducci (THE SOPRANOS, THE IRISHMAN, A BRONX TALE). Kind of misleading as they are bit-players here. The story  is about these three guys, their history and how they navigate this night.  We learn that Marty is the glue keeping these guys together. Shane is a selfish devil and Gavin is the most messed up out of all of them – a Hollywood action star dealing with depression. 

What I admire most about the movie is the exposition and the way we learned things. It gave me a feeling that anything could happen because they just have to talk about it. Their history is drawn out slowly over time in a way that I connected to. In 2020 I dare say the displayed behaviour would be called “toxic”. I just call it real. It sounded like how guys talk. Tearing strips off each other with an underlying pride, but still a bond. “You did this. I did that. How could you do this? I can’t believe you did that! Bro! …Let’s go gets some waffles!” 

SO MANY PLACES TO GROW:

This is director Ryan Brookhart’s second effort. The first being a demon-horror flick called TRACE so TWO WAYS is definitely a departure from that! My two main critiques are the film’s pacing and the performance of the lead. The best parts for me were the guys telling jokes and stories with quick jump-cuts keeping the pace going. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen enough. The good parts peppered through here is what I craved most (A hilarious discussion about “if crabs are found in your eyebrows, are they still crabs or are they then lice?” is a highlight. There’s also a great commitment to a pickle analogy which I respect! 

A TOOTHLESS TIGER:

While Liddell isn’t a bad actor or anything. (He has a range and the chops to keep you interested and have you care for him). He just doesn’t have gravitas for such an important role. This character goes through a whirlwind of emotion hitting all kinds of mental depths and horrific realisations. I just want to feel that the guy on that screen is grabbing me by the face commanding my attention. Liddell doesn’t have that yet. This is just his first major role so there’s every chance he’s going to mature as an actor. But for right now, this film would have been served better had they cast differently here. But I get it. Liddell wrote this probably from a dark place and wanted to commit to it. Admirable for a small indie trying to get a foot in the door. 

I JUST WANT SOME FRENCH TOAST:

Overall this film was better than I initially expected. I went into this one not expecting much. If i’m being honest, I was kind of dreading it when I read up a little about it. But I’m not like Trump – and I can admit when I’m wrong. By the final scene I can honestly say I cared about what these dudes were going through. I wouldn’t have said the same thing in my twenties though. Proof that your past experiences will always be the stained-glass through which you take on future challenges. 
I applaud the effort and hope all the players involved achieve what they’re gunning for in LALA Land. 

KERNEL EHAB’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Ehab Rashed is a part time freelancer and full time movie tragic and dog dad. If he’s not making his Netflix account overheat you can find him at the movies, a dog park, contemplating the life meaning in “The Big Lebowski”, photographing landscapes or working Tarantino quotes into everyday conversations. You can find this dog and him bumming around on insta @chubbz4lyf 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.