Waking Up in Reno (2002)
Directed by: Jordan Brady | 91 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Natasha Richardson, Charlize Theron, Patrick Swayze, Billy Bob Thornton, Penelope Cruz, Holmes Osborne, Billy O’Sullivan, Galvin Chapman, Cleo King, Brent Briscoe, Mark Fauser
Four famous actors, not all known for their great acting skills, but still… You would expect something more from this comedy. However, the film is so abominably bad that it is an insult to the viewers. You can actually say that there are bad movies and bad movies. And then there’s ‘Waking Up in Reno’. The release of this film has been delayed a number of times in America and ultimately only grossed $260,000. You can’t identify with any of the characters, the choices they make, their actions and reactions to each other are so unusual and unnatural that the film is a real torture despite its short duration.
The two couples both have their problems: Darlene is married to the unsympathetic Lonnie Earl, a car salesman in Little Rock, Arkansas (all four actors have that terrible accent). She misses the romance in marriage and therefore does not want sex anymore. However, Lonnie Earl also has his needs and seeks satisfaction close to home, namely with Darlene’s best friend, Candy, who in turn is married to Lonnie Earl’s extremely stupid-appearing childhood friend, Roy.
They are a bunch of rednecks, or rather trailer trash and what could be better for these people than taking a vacation to Reno, Nevada to attend a Monster Truck Rally?
Candy and Roy have been trying to conceive a child for a while, but they haven’t really succeeded yet. On vacation, Candy and Darlene visit a fortune teller who suggests that Candy might be pregnant. She’s not even due yet, but three tests are bought and done and sure enough, she’s pregnant (the fact that it’s not even medically possible to take a pregnancy test if you’re not yet on time, let’s just go for it ). Great joy, but then Roy hears the results of the test he had just before the holidays, he is infertile. Of course you are not infertile, Candy laughs, how else can I be pregnant? Or… and she looks at Lonnie Earl with a guilty look. It is logical that Darlene realizes it quickly, it is so thick on top of it. The fact that Roy doesn’t get it, but that it even has to be explained to him, is one of the worst moments in the film. Even a child understands this.
The idea of the film, incidentally, originated from the brain of Billy Bob Thornton, who envisioned a modern version of “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice” (1969). But after Thornton became famous with ‘Sling Blade’ (1996), he ran out of time to write the script and shared his idea with friends Brett Briscoe and Mark Fauser, whom he knew from the TV series ‘Hearts Afire’. It is clear that these two can gain some experience in writing good comedies. And what Penélope Cruz does in this film as a prostitute is also a great mystery. An absolute turn off.