Stretch (2014) Film Review

Released by Universal Pictures

Release Date: October 14th, 2014

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ed Helms, James Badge Dale, and Chris Pine

Written by Joe Carnahan

Directed by Joe Carahan

Rated R (language, sexual content/nudity, some drug use and brief violence)

Blumhouse is a production company that has a tried and true business model: Make films for very little and reap the rewards. They have given us The Conjuring films as well as their spinoffs, The Purge trilogy, and the Insidious films.

The man who runs Blumhouse, Jason Blum, is a huge horror fan, but has always seen his company making all types of films. They have too. Blum was a producer on the critically acclaimed, but hated by me, Whiplash. He has also produced The Tooth Fairy with Dwayne Johnson. There is no saying that the man is not versatile.

This is why he gave some established directors some money to make films that they wanted to make. With these budgets we saw films like Lords of Salem, The Visit, and The Darkness. There were a string of films that were supposed to get theatrical runs and one of those films is Stretch.

Written and directed by Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smoking Aces), Stretch is about a failed actor (Patrick Wilson) who has become a limo driver and is tasked with picking up a special client (Chris Pine) who is a self-made billionaire. Wilson has a huge gambling debt that is due by midnight and if he can keep up with Pine then he will get to pay off the bookie.

The film is told over one very long night and, as such, we get to see the creativity of the writer at work. Carnahan gives an L.A. that we have seen in many films, with crazy sex parties, lots of drugs, and the occasional burst of violence.

Sure, we have seen films like this one come out on a regular basis for the last twenty years, but what Carnahan adds is his flair for putting regular guys into wacky situations and letting the characters work everything out. He has done this, to varying effects, in many of films. The situations may not always be wacky, but the characters are always at the bottom of the hill and there is a shit storm waiting for them at every turn

Of course Carnahan would not be able to make these situations work without a talented group of actors and he definitely has one here. Wilson is great as the failed actor. He is driving a limo and hates it. When he is thrust into the various situations, Wilson brings his A game. Whether it be posing as an L.A. cop in order to get a briefcase from someone or get OnStar to turn his car back on by telling them that he is in a gun fight and a cop has been injured, Wilson brings a manic energy to everything that happens on screen.

Everyone who has seen the film talks about Wilson without talking about Chris Pine as the billionaire that has a thirst for everything illegal from cocaine to sex parties that have to change location due to the perversities that happen within. Pine is best known as Captain James Kirk in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films, and has a pretty boy way about him, but here he is great. Pine handles the role very real and comes off as an asshole that we would want to party with.

Carnahan is a director who loves male bonding in his films. From Narc to The A-Team to The Grey, Carnahan has always put men at the front of his films. There is nothing wrong with this and he does it very well. He creates characters that feel very real, even when the situations are not. This is the man who gave us the batshit crazy Smokin Aces and had to prove to many that you can pilot a falling tank by firing it in the opposite direction of where you want it to be. Carnahan is not afraid to put his characters in these insane situations just to please his audience.

The film was never released theatrically in the U.S. because Universal thought that no one wanted to see a film like this. The film only cost $5 million and they could have made their money back in the film’s opening weekend, but they decided to dump the film on dvd with no blu-ray release and not one special feature. This is a shame because Stretch is a good film. It is not Carnahan’s best, but he was able to accomplish a lot with a small budget. Hell, he was able to make the film he wanted to make, stay within budget, have stars in his film, AND shoot the whole thing in L.A.. This is a film that should be seen and the way it has been treated is a true crime.

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