Where to Stream It: Prime Video
Starring: John Choo, Mia Isaac
Directed By: Hannah Marks
At the very beginning of this film, Wally (played by Mia Isaac) tells us through her narration that “you’re not going to like the way this story ends, but I think you’re going to like this story.” That seems to be a pretty good summation of how most people will come away from this movie.
Don’t Make Me Go follows a single father, Max (played by John Choo), who is dealing with a tumor that gives him only a year to live. While he has the option of surgery, his chances of survival are slim.
He decides to take his teenage daughter on a road trip to go to his college reunion. What Wally doesn’t know is that this is all her father's attempt to re-connect with her estranged mother before he dies.
A comedy-drama that isn't too sappy
The film, which debuted at this summer’s Tribeca Film Festival, sounds like something that could have all the trappings of a direct-to-Lifetime movie. However, actress-turned-director Hannah Marks manages to deliver something that strikes (most of) the right notes.
Mia Isaac carries the movie with a heartfelt performance as Wally. The character she embodies is multi-dimensional. At times you wonder how her father could possibly put up with her rebellion and sarcasm. At other times you feel for her. By the end you may even shed a tear or two.
The movie works in the most poignant moments only when they have been best earned. There's funny moments and serious moments in equal measure. An opening scene where our characters accidentally stumble upon a nudist beach is sure to get some chuckles.
A non-spoiler discussion of THAT ending
Let’s just say that something happens towards the third act of the film that could be polarizing. Some may appreciate the artistic merits of the decision that was made here while others may feel caught off guard, if not confused.
I myself was split on whether or not I thought the ending was a good narrative choice.
It did cause me to ruminate a bit on some of the movie’s themes of mortality and seizing the day while we are still on this Earth. Which I suppose is the intention.
Final Thoughts: Shall You Stream It?
Plenty of territory this movie explores has been done before many times over- movies about fathers and daughters, road trip films, movies about terminally ill people learning to live for the moment, etc. etc. Hannah Marks manages to deliver a film that feels fresh despite that.
This is the first film I’ve seen from Marks and I’m excited to see where the young director will go with her career going forward. Equally exciting will be the opportunities ahead for actress Mia Isaac.
The film is worth watching and tells a beautiful story. Once this road trip hits a certain fork in the road you may have mixed feelings but it’s hard not to appreciate the talent that shines through in this movie.