A brilliant creation of a young director, writer, actor.
Director: Jim Cummings (No Floodwall Here)
Cast: Cummings, Kendal Farr
Runtime: 1h 32 m
By: John DeSando
“So Mary climb in
It's a town full of losers
I'm pulling out of here to win.” Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road
Jim Cummings’ Thunder Road has it all because he is all about it—writer, director, actor in some sort of method-acting out of the modern despair that comes swiftly to men. It includes divorce that leads to loss of a child to occupational meltdown tied to a young police officer’s face 2 face with stupidity and banality, as much his own as anyone’s.
Officer Jim Arnaud’s unbroken ten minutes at the opening is a remarkable reflection of his unstable but not unlikeable character riddled with ambivalence about his mother and weeping about life, in front of a somber funeral gathering. The film fulfills the promise of a character who has made some miserable decisions yet hopes fate will provide him his young daughter, Crystal (Kendal Farr), without conditions even though the pre-teen has reservations about her father and their relationship.
At work, the connections are as tenuous as with his ex, Rosalind (Jocelyn DeBoer), and his daughter. His meltdowns help suspend him while he tries to do the best for everyone but frequently does not do it well. His friendship with officer Nate (Nican Robinson) is uneven especially when his uncool responses alienate him at a dinner.
Underneath the skin of this nice-looking, well-meaning officer-dad lies blue collar blues, the anguish of not knowing the right commands to set life’s course correctly. Finances, occupational success, and the loving life are rarely aligned well for a happy life.
In this inspired depiction of the lost middle-class, Jim Cummings predicted in 2018 the pandemic of 2020, a world where most everything is going wrong enough to isolate the humblest of men, for whom salvation is as always to become more than they are. In Officer Jim’s case, it is to be more of a loving and caring father and cop.
Thunder Road seems to advise getting out of yourself, and you will become more than yourself.
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John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com