A buddy adventure movie is only as good as the adventure itself. Two hours of guys exploring the mall on Segways? Count me out. Two hours of guys going to junk stores seeking an exhaust manifold for a 1958 Edsel? Count me in, but count almost everybody else out.
What almost everybody else wants is two hours of a poignant adventure movie featuring father and son, formerly at odds, who retrace a historic exploration via canoe and, in the process, build a stronger bond. WaterWalk, even with its shortcomings—not the least is budgetary—offers exactly this with charm to spare.
Steven Faulkner (Robert Cicchini) is an editor at a small-town West Michigan newspaper who, despite receiving top trophy at the dubious National Obituary Awards, gets canned and is forced to apply for menial jobs. That's not the least of his troubles. Faulkner's adopted son, Justin (Chase Maser), had a party last weekend and gave his young sisters beer. Yelling ensues, where Justin laments the effects of his dad's busy schedule: some other kid's dad had to show him how to shoot a gun, and, worse, a genuine real-life female had to show him how to throw a baseball. "How pathetic is that?" Justin pleads.
Justin proposes that the two paddle a canoe 1,000 miles to St. Louis, just like explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, and pay for the trip via crowdfunding (of course). You know how most of the rest goes. There's bickering, but mostly there's triumph of the human spirit, and a father and son coming together, and other things the man's voice tells you in so many heart-tugging movie trailers. I won't give away the end.
WaterWalk has several unconvincing smaller characters, mostly of the female kind, which discredits the film slightly. Its ultra-low-budget production, however, works in its favor; looking (and especially sounding) like home footage, WaterWalk seems to say, "This could be your story, too." And who doesn't live for adventure?
'WaterWalk' opens Friday, June 7, at Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol.