Do not be fooled by this stellar twosome, Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. "The Leisure Seeker", a first-time American project for Italian director Paolo Virzi, is about as bad as they come. Ella and John Spencer (Mirren and Sutherland) run away from their adult children in their old, dilapidated camper, inauspiciously named the Leisure Seeker. Trust me, it's as bad as it sounds.
But what makes "The Leisure Seeker" so incredibly unbelievable is the poor health of these two seniors. Ella has escaped her cancer and her daughter, Jane (Janel Moloney), who is tasked with taking her for treatment. Jane's brother, Will (Christian McKay), discovers the empty house in Massachusetts --- and the empty carport where the Leisure Seeker was stored. He goes absolutely ballistic, a rather strong reaction from a nerd with a beard.
Despite the pleas to reconsider from their two offspring, Ella and John are determined to make it all the way down the East Coast's Route 1 to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida. John, who is suffering from acute memory loss --- never stated if it's dementia or Alzheimer's --- is piloting the RV, which is a bizarre idea, at best.
Screenwriters Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, and Virzi have tried mightily to inject enough humor and pathos into their script to make it palatable, but have, unfortunately, failed miserably. Based on a short novel by Michael Zadoorian, who had his couple traveling from Chicago to California via Route 66, Virzi wanted to change the scenery. Perhaps he should have stayed with the original idea.
Seriously, though, that would not have mattered. "The Leisure Seeker" is an utter failure. Mirren's Ella is a too-chatty Southern belle hoping for one last adventure with the love of her life. Considering she's British and the director is Italian, who encouraged Mirren to portray Ella in such a ridiculous fashion? John, a retired high school English teacher, still recites Hemingway to anyone who will pretend to listen. She sports a wig too dark in color and he chooses to drive in a tweed sport coat, despite the fact that their camper is equipped with only fans, no air conditioning.
None of this would be important if the script was not so flawed. Virzi and his team try too hard to make this a relevant story. Ella is overly friendly with a Pakistani couple running a gas station, John gets stopped by a highway patrol for swerving, and at one campsite, he wanders off leaving Ella in a panic.
But, what did she expect --- she takes this poor guy, who doesn't remember his own children, on a road trip knowing his limitations. It's all so ludicrous --- there's even a scene involving a roadside hold-up and a shotgun.
The issues Virzi attempts to address in "The Leisure Seeker" are serious ones. But his weak and disjointed storyline, along with the often-silly dialogue, serves no purpose. And don't even get me started on the ending. Good Lord, I do not know what he and his crew were thinking --- it's so outrageous.
Therefore, right out of the chute, we have a contender for one of the Worst Films of 2018. If I can save even one person from seeing "The Leisure Seeker", I've done my job.
Opinion: Don't Bother!
Our production notes for this new film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland mentioned that their characters are simply ordinary people. And maybe that's what's wrong with "The Leisure Seeker".
John and Ella Spencer are taking their beloved old RV, named the Leisure Seeker, for one last spin from Massachusetts to Key West. It's a final road trip for the aging married couple because John is in the early stages of memory loss, and despite the misgivings of their son, Will (Christian McKay) and daughter, Jane (Janel Moloney), they are going through with the venture.
This represents Italian director Paolo Virzi's first American film. It is based on Michael Zadoorian's first and only novel by the same name. Virzi was careful not to set his film along Route 66, as the book was, so he chose a less conventional path for his road trip movie. Alas, "The Leisure Seeker" is neither funny nor poignant, and without those two attributes, the finale has no emotional depth. We can't give that away, of course, but let's just say we don't much care for these two people, and that's a major problem.
As their annoying son, McKay gives a terrible performance. He is not believable in the slightest, and his acting is elementary school caliber. The biggest disappointment, of course, is that Mirren and Sutherland, two of our finest actors, are given little to work with by Stephen Amidon, the primary screenplay writer, and who is a former collaborator with Virzi on another film.
I can't recommend this movie on any level. It is, sadly, an early candidate for my list of Worst Movies of 2018.
Opinion: Don't Bother!