Don’t Make Me Go
Don’t Make Me Go tells the story of Max Park (John Cho), a single father to the teenage Wally (Mia Isaac). When Max is diagnosed with a bone tumour, with the only hope of recovery being surgery with a 20% success rate, he decides to take Wally on a cross-country road trip to meet her estranged mother, Nicole (Jen Van Epps), trying his best to teach her valuable life lessons along the way.
For the most part, Don’t Make Me Go is a fairly standard family drama, with the tried-and-tested narrative device of a family road trip and the typical character arcs of “out-of-touch father” and “rebellious child”. It’s not the most exciting script in the world but it works well enough at what it’s trying to accomplish, and it does a good job at establishing Max and Wally as interesting characters with dynamics entertaining enough to more or less carry a 104-minute film. Where the script occasionally falters, the actors are there to pick it up, and both Cho and Isaac put in great performances throughout, demonstrating fantastic chemistry and enhancing the story’s key emotional beats.
What will make or break this film for its audiences is its third act, which comes with a twist that is heavily telegraphed but entirely changes the tone of the piece. It seems as if the movie knows this, as the first thing it does is go on the defensive about the ending, starting as it does with Wally narrating, “You’re not going to like the way this story ends. But I think you’re going to like the story.” While the scripting does try to justify itself throughout the third act (mostly through Wally’s narration defending the decision), it feels as if it ends the way it does to subvert expectations for subverting expectations’ sake, not earning its unorthodox conclusion and leaving an unexpected bittersweet taste overall.
Overall, Don’t Make Me Go is a film that tries to be a tender tear-jerker, and for the most part, is supported by talented leading actors and a decent, if inoffensive script. However, while it would have made for a perfectly serviceable feel-good movie as it is, the script shoots for the stars with a twist ending it can’t justify, writing cheques that the narrative leading up to it simply cannot cash.
Don’t Make Me Go is released on Amazon Prime Video on 15th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Don’t Make Me Go here: