Directed by: Jordan Brady | 91 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Natasha Richardson, Charlize Theron, Patrick Swayze, Billy Bob Thornton, Penélope Cruz, Holmes Osborne, Billy O’Sullivan, Galvin Chapman, Cleo King, Brent Briscoe, Mark Fauser
Four well-known actors, not all known for their great acting skills, but still… You would expect a little more from this comedy. However, the film is so horribly bad that it is an insult to the viewers. Actually, you can say that there are bad movies and bad movies. And then there is “Waking Up in Reno”. The release of this film has been postponed a number of times in America and ultimately raised only $ 260,000. You cannot 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 true 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 no longer wants sex. However, Lonnie Earl also has his needs and seeks to satisfy them close to home, namely with Darlene’s best friend, Candy, who in turn is married to Lonnie Earl’s extremely stupid childhood friend, Roy.
They are a bunch of rednecks, or rather trailer trash and what could be better for these folks than going on vacation to Reno, Nevada to visit a Monster Truck Rally?
Candy and Roy have been trying to conceive a child for some time, but this is not really working yet. On vacation, Candy and Darlene go to a fortune teller who suggests that Candy might be pregnant. She is not even overdue yet, but three tests are being bought and done and yes, she is pregnant (the fact that it is not even medically possible to take a pregnancy test if you are not overdue, let’s just go ). Great joy, but then Roy hears the results of the test he had just before the holiday, he is infertile. Of course you are not sterile, Candy laughs, how else can I be pregnant? Or… and she looks guilty at Lonnie Earl. It is logical that Darlene realizes it quickly, it is so obvious. However, the fact that Roy does not understand it, but that it even needs 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 in the brain of Billy Bob Thornton, who envisioned a modern version of “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice” (1969). But after Thornton rose to fame with “Sling Blade” (1996), he ran out of time to write the script and he 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 mystery. An absolute letdown.