The road trip concept has managed to cross over most continents and into most genres of film. As the characters get behind the wheel, the story can be a metaphor for personal growth and can serve as means of mending relationships. For all of those individuals who have experienced the real-life versions of this narrative know that it can lead to significant conversations, hilarious situations, times of extreme boredom and a heightened awareness of clean roadside toilet options. Kodachrome cruises through a multitude of these elements while attempting to heal the wounds between an estranged father and son.
Matt Ryder (Jason Sudeikis) is having a terrible day as a music executive after losing one his biggest artists. As he is at the precipice of a failed career, Zoe Barnes (Elizabeth Olsen) enters his office unannounced and asks Matt to consider granting his father his last request, to ride across the country to Jasper, Kansas to get some film developed. Even though he has not heard from his father in over a decade, this bizarre invitation makes sense since Ben Ryder (Ed Harris) is an old-school photojournalist who wants some of his last prints made at the final place to process Kodachrome film.
The difficulty for Matt has more to do with his caustic relationship with his father than with the road trip. Everything looks like the reunion will not hit the road until Ben’s business manager makes Matt an offer that motivates the music executive to consider enduring the pain of spending time together. The trek from New York to the Midwest begins in an old convertible Saab and leads to unexpected detours that impact all in the car.
The challenge for director Mark Raso (Copenhagen) is to manufacture something original from a familiar storyline on the restoration of a father/son connection in a car ride. Most of the screenplay and characters are predictable within this simple concept, except one advantage of this production is Ed Harris sitting in the backseat. An actor who has managed to maintain a charisma and presence throughout his career that commands attention and drives this film from being a pedestrian stroll to a substantial cross-country adventure.
This by-the-numbers road trip does not involve any significant surprises or set any new cinematic benchmarks, but the dialogue between the two lead actors makes for an engaging ride. Elizabeth Olsen adds a particular passion to the trio that keeps this from primarily appealing to a masculine audience. With the inclusion of the work within the music industry does provide some colour to this straightforward narrative, even though it does seem to be a stretch to consider Sudeikis as a music producer. Despite some of the slower moments, the majority of the film is reliant on the Harris / Sudeikis chemistry to keep the wheels on this production. Kodachrome does not offer much to this familiar genre, but it does make for an entertaining journey in the cinema.
REEL DIALOGUE: What does it mean to be a father to your children?
‘Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.’ Psalm 127:3-5
One aspect of fatherhood that tends to get overlooked is that it is not only a responsibility, but it is a privilege. Children are truly a blessing. It can be hard to remember this during the early morning feedings or the latest car smash, but these incidental things should not diminish the gift that they are in our lives.
Fathers need to look at this opportunity as an honour and do all that can be done to be the men our children need us to be. Somedays are harder than others, but thankfully the Bible gives us the instruction manual to help to mould our children and prayer provides the comfort to watch over them in all situations.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” – Joshua 24:15