Euthanasia Puns – Youth in Oregon (2016)

There’s an easier way to do this.  So this is about a husband (Bill Crudup).  When his live-in father-in-law (Frank Langella) decides that he is a burden on the family and no longer wishes to live on this Earth, it is time for a cross country road trip to Oregon where apparently assisted euthanasia is legal.  This is a quirky little indie movie that I stumbled upon, and I still have conflicting thoughts on how I feel about it.  It’s a very odd subject matter to try and build a comedy around, and as you can probably imagine, this leads to some uneven tonal shifts as the story unfolds.  Overall, this ended up faltering more often than not because it is a comedy that just isn’t all that funny.

featuredSurprise surprise, an old man wanting to take his own life doesn’t lend itself to being a feel-good comedy hit.

Now the one saving grace to this movie is that the acting is all quality.  The cast to this range from proven to legendary actors, like Crudup and Langella.  I’ve been a big fan of Langella for some time now, and he does very well at playing a curmudgeonly old man as you can probably imagine.  I liked Crudup’s performance even though I didn’t care much for how he was written; there is only so much you can watch a character get walked on before you reach a point of disconnect.  You know what movie did this better?  Little Miss Sunshine.  This movie wants to be Little Miss Sunshine so badly because at its core, this is still a road trip movie, and it has the trappings that you always find in a road trip movie.  You have characters that don’t get along with each other, you have inappropriate interactions in a public restaurant, and you even have an accidental drug trip.  You’ve seen this movie before, but you haven’t seen it with such a dark subject matter.

1Of course new family members are going to pop up on the way to help keep it fresh, because that’s what road trip movies do: they pick up people along the way.

Where I think this movie starts to fall apart is the premise itself.  If you really want to kill yourself, you don’t need to drive to Oregon to do it.  It really isn’t that hard for a person with the capacity for thought to figure out a means, and it is a hard fact to look past if you are going to buy into the entire foundation on which this story is built.  The only thing I really liked about this was the acting, but that can only go so far.

Youth in Oregon (2016) **1/2

– Critic for Hire

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