×

Film Review: ‘Amanda & Jack Go Glamping’

Brandon Dickerson's slight, strained comedy toothlessly sends up the world of unplugged hipster retreats.

Director:
Brandon Dickerson
With:
David Arquette, Amy Acker, Adan Canto, Chris Carpenter, Nicole Elliott, Daniel Ross Owens, June Squibb, Richard Robichaux, Gustavo Gomez.
Release Date:
Nov 10, 2017

1 hour 32 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5578150/

It was London everywoman Bridget Jones, in her most recent screen outing, who skeptically gave us cinema’s definitive verdict on “glamping,” that irksome term for upmarket camping in a fixed, fashionably furnished tent: “Calling him Gladolf Hitler,” she opined, “wouldn’t suddenly make us forget all the unpleasantness.” It’s not a view that is challenged, nor a quip that is remotely improved upon, in “Amanda & Jack Go Glamping,” a thin, sparkless romantic comedy that takes satirical aim at a host of current hipster-culture targets, before concluding that merely identifying them is droll enough.

Headlined somewhat bemusedly by David Arquette and Amy Acker, as a couple seeking to cure their marital doldrums at a rustic Texan retreat for the quinoa brigade, Brandon Dickerson’s scruffy Austin production has a communal, homemade quality of its own — though you’d gladly trade that for a few more laughs, not to mention a couple of extra character layers. Following limited theatrical exposure, “Amanda & Jack” will most likely set up camp in less glamorous streaming sites.

It’s almost surprising that the aforementioned “Bridget Jones’s Baby” zinger doesn’t appear verbatim in “Amanda & Jack Go Glamping,” so heavy is Dickerson’s nominally original screenplay on winking movie quotes and references: Everything from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to “Gone With the Wind” to (okay, sure) “Ricki and the Flash” gets a direct tip of the hat here, to the point where it’s difficult to recall much of Dickerson’s unappropriated dialogue. So keen is the film to embed itself by association into a particularly catholic cinematic family — as opposed to the sitcom realm strictly suggested by its flat visuals and why-not plotting — that it even namechecks the 1987 Patrick Dempsey vehicle “Can’t Buy Me Love” as “another classic,” a stretch surely as tenuous as any of the narrative’s mounting contrivances and coincidences.

At least it wastes no time in the setup. An audio montage of news reports in the opening frames establishes the ennui of Jack Spencer (Arquette), a once-celebrated author who has slid into critical disrepute and personal depression since his wildly successful debut novel. Broke, unmotivated and sporadically cheered only by his two young daughters, he’s circling the outer borders of Splitsville with his exasperated wife Amanda (Acker) — about whom the script sees fit to tell us nothing whatsoever, beyond her growingly inexplicable attachment to this buzzkill. That extends to arranging a make-or-break, no-kids getaway in Greenacres, an on-trend, off-grid kind of technology-free wellness resort where distractions range from meditation to alpaca-petting to fireside singalongs to Sixpence None the Richer.

Jack, not unreasonably, is unconvinced. The film largely shares his wary perspective, particularly when their initial idyll is rudely disrupted by others: a dippy millennial couple (Nicole Elliott and Daniel Ross Owens) brandishing hybrid dreamcatcher selfie sticks, and Greenacres’ smarmy founder Nate (Adan Canto, finding more comic zip than most in the sparse material), a hemp-wearing, virtue-signaling dreamboat who takes a convenient shine to Amanda just as her husband reaches peak writer-y crankiness.

It’s hard to invest much in the ensuing alpha-male pissing contest over a woman who probably deserves better than either man. Jack’s redemptive wilderness walkabout is equally small potatoes, both dramatically and comically, punctuated by half-sketched, high-quirk encounters with local eccentrics and a hunter-gathering adolescent who professes to be under the equal educational influence of “Socrates, the Boy Scouts and Google.” By the time deus ex machina duties fall unexpectedly to June Squibb, doing a low-rent reprise of her Oscar-nominated salty-old-trooper routine from “Nebraska,” “Amanda & Jack Go Glamping” seems to have exhausted its already slim possibilities with minutes to spare.

Even if its modest relationship dilemma never catches the heart, it’s the simpler, lower-stakes misses in Dickerson’s film that disappoint most. Situating itself in a gentrified yurt-and-yoga cultural scene ripe for a ribbing, “Amanda & Jack” proceeds mostly to fire blanks into the barrel, pointing out the privileged silliness of glamping but never quite nailing what it reveals about these blandly insecure characters. “Looks like your hashtag bulls—t antenna!” Jack yells to a group of passively offending hipsters at his most irate point — whatever that may be, the film could probably use one.

Film Review: 'Amanda & Jack Go Glamping'

Reviewed online, London, Nov. 8, 2017. (In Austin Film Festival.)

Production: An Orion Pictures, Gravitas Ventures presentation of a Spiral Films production. Producers: Cathleen Sutherland, Susan Kirr, Brandon Dickerson. Executive producers: Jeff Carpenter, Steve Williams, Marcy Carpenter, Jenny Williams, Erik Lokkesmoe. CREW: Director, screenplay: Brandon Dickerson. Camera (color): Abraham Martinez. Editor: May Kuckro. Music: B.C. Smith.

With: David Arquette, Amy Acker, Adan Canto, Chris Carpenter, Nicole Elliott, Daniel Ross Owens, June Squibb, Richard Robichaux, Gustavo Gomez.

More Film

  • Instinct

    Carice van Houten's 'Instinct' Picked Up By Films Boutique (EXCLUSIVE)

    Berlin-based international sales agent Films Boutique has picked up psychological thriller “Instinct,” starring Carice van Houten, Emmy nominated on Tuesday for “Game of Thrones,” and Marwan Kenzari, recently seen in Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin.” “Instinct” has its world premiere on the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival next month. “Instinct,” the directorial debut of Halina [...]

  • If Only - Ginevra Elkann

    Locarno Announces Edgy Mix of Premieres, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Thriller '7500'

    Italian director Ginevra Elkann’s directorial debut, “If Only,” about kids with divorced parents, will open the 72nd Locarno Film Festival, its first edition under new artistic director Lili Hinstin, who has assembled an edgy mix of promising titles from young auteurs and more established names. “If Only” and the fest closer, iconic Japanese director Kiyoshi [...]

  • Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as

    Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as CEO of VFX Firm Foundry

    Jody Madden has been upped to CEO at U.K.-based VFX outfit Foundry. She steps up fromchief product officer and replaces Craig Rodgerson, who joined the company in late 2017. Foundry was bought by U.S. tech firm Roper Technologies earlier this year in a £410 million ($509 million) deal. The London-based business provides software and technology [...]

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Beyonce poses for photographers upon arrival

    Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution

    Beyoncé fans are stampeding across the web veldt to get a look at her just-released music video for “Spirit,” the original song she co-wrote and sang for the “Lion King” soundtrack. The track is also included on the companion album she executive-produced and will release Friday, “The Gift.” Clips from the computer-animated film are interspersed [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez Takes Down Wall Street Crooks in New Trailer for 'Hustlers'

    According to Jennifer Lopez, basic pole dancing movements all revolve around a few foot positions. But as she tells her stripper student Constance Wu, it’s not just about the dancing. In the new trailer for “Hustlers,” Lopez and Wu swindle a number of high profile Wall Street clients in an effort to bring their white [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content