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Carried Away Review

December 17, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Carried Away
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Carried Away Review  

Carried Away Review

Gabriel Horn– Ed Franklin
Juli Erickson– Granny
Mark Walters– Rex Franklin
Jenny Shakeshaft– Sarah (appearing as Jennifer Sipes)
Bryan Massey– Steve Franklin
Tyler Corie– Davy Franklin
Morgana Shaw– Jean Franklin

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Tom Huckabee
Screenplay by Tom Huckabee

Distributed by Vanguard Cinema

Not Rated
Runtime– 102 minutes

Rent or purchase on Vimeo or Amazon


Carried Away, written and directed by Tom Huckabee, is a wonderful indie comedy drama that’s essentially about a family seemingly breaking apart around the holidays. Sweet but never saccharine and, at times, goddamn hilarious, it’s the kind of movie that makes a bad day seem not that bad at all. You may go into it not expecting much (if you’ve seen one indie comedy drama you’ve seen them all), but Carried Away will, I think, exceed your expectations by a mile and more.

Carried Away stars Gabriel Horn as Ed Franklin, a young actor who flies from Los Angeles to his family home in Texas for the holidays. Ed doesn’t seem to fit in with his family, especially his sternish father Rex (Mark Walters) and his brothers Steve (Bryan Massey) and, to a lesser extent, Davy (Tyler Corie). Steve is sick with cancer but is also bit of a belligerent jerk, and Davy has serious legal issues (he got caught with weed and might go to jail). The only person Ed feels close to is his grandmother (Granny, as played by Juli Erickson), but she was sent to live in a nursing home as she is experiencing the onset of dementia after she had a stroke. Ed doesn’t like this situation, and while home decides to take Granny out of the nursing home and back with him to Los Angeles. Granny agrees to the scheme, as she hates being in the home. But can Ed really get Granny to Los Angeles in one piece?

As soon as Ed initiates his “take Granny to LA” operation, the whole thing goes awry. Ed may have a car to drive Granny to Los Angeles (Rex gives Ed an old station wagon), he doesn’t have the money to pay for gas or food or hotel rooms (Granny has a credit card that they can use but the card gets shut off in the middle of the trip). Rex, Steve, and Davy start looking for them as soon as they find out what Ed’s big plan was. And, as the big trip hits the sort of middle stretch, Ed and Granny’s relationship and bond is tested when Ed tries to explain why they drifted apart several years ago and Granny’s condition proves to be difficult to deal with.

The “road movie” idea is a plot device that’s been used countless times and Huckabee uses it to damn near perfection in Carried Away. The endless miles Ed and Granny have to travel to Los Angeles provide a good story reason to talk, to air out their issues, and discover what the hell is really going on with them. They stop a few times along the way, but it’s really the road that helps explain what is going on with them. Things come to a head when Ed stops at a sort of artist’s commune/little community in Arizona where Ed’s old girlfriend Sarah (Jenny Shakeshaft, appearing as Jennifer Sipes) lives/works/exists/holds onto her distant love for Ed (Sarah has a boyfriend that she has no intention of leaving, but when she’s with Ed you can tell they still have chemistry). The community stay shows everyone that Ed and Granny aren’t as close as they thought (they’re close, they have an enduring bond, but they have issues they need to work out that exist outside of the whole Franklin family dynamic that put Granny in the home).

We also see the road trip dynamic with Rex and his sons as they pursue Ed and Granny. The movie doesn’t spend a ton of time on this part of the story, but it’s fascinating how we see through this section that Rex isn’t quite the hardass he’s been made out to be. As Steve and Davy fight and argue (Steve is a total asshole throughout the trip) you would think a “belligerent jerk” like Rex would be more forceful in trying to hold Steve and Davy in line. Instead, what we see is Rex simply trying to hold things together. Rex never flips out, never gets all that upset (they go to a strip club during one of their own pit stops and Rex’s vehicle gets stolen. He gets upset but he doesn’t stay upset for long. He just gets another vehicle and presses on). Rex’s steady voice is his sort of enduring quality. He can’t get upset. Is it because he feels a sense of massive responsibility for his family, especially his elderly mother (Granny is Rex’s mother)? Does he see his job as the guy everyone else has to depend on because that’s just the way it needs to be?

And what’s the deal with Ed’s mother Jean (Morgana Shaw) and Rex? Jean wants a divorce and Rex doesn’t seem too concerned about it. But is that what’s really going on there? Again, it looks like, when Rex finds out, his reaction to what Jean wants is more of a management thing than anything else. He can’t really process it emotionally, at least at that moment, because it’s just another thing he has to deal with, or feels he has to deal with. Was their marriage always that way and now Jean is done dealing with it?

The big racism discussion that Ed and Granny deal with is something that I didn’t expect, mostly because movies tend to steer clear of that kind of thing. Huckabee goes head on into it and makes a distressing situation hilarious. It’s a discussion that different generations have no doubt had in real life, and it’s handled brilliantly.

The tone Huckabee uses is similar to other indie movies I’ve seen and it works. The movie isn’t really slow but it is methodical and naturalistic. There aren’t a lot of jump cuts and scenes are allowed to play out. Huckabee uses time wisely and doesn’t waste it at all. There are a few slow moments, but they help make the movie’s big moments pop. That’s what you want out of your movies. Well, that’s what I want out of my movies.

The performances are all top notch. Gabriel Horn does a great job as Ed. He is probably the most emotional of the Franklin family, but at the same time you can see that he always tries to keep an even keel, even in stressful situations. Does he always succeed? No way (the big after dance sequence in Arizona is a prime example of this), but he’s always trying to stay calm and do the right thing. He really feels bad for his grandmother and he wants her to have a great life. Even when it doesn’t work out, he’s still trying to make it work. That’s commendable. I would love to see a movie about Ed and Sarah. Their chemistry is through the goddamn roof.

Mark Walters is fantastic as Rex. As I said, Rex seems like he’s one type of character, but his reality is much different. I simply love how Walters makes Rex as calm as possible, even in the midst of endlessly nasty stuff. I mean, look at the shit Rex puts up with in the truck while looking for Ed and Granny? You’d totally understand it if Rex threw Steve out of the truck in the middle of the desert and left him there to die. You’d act as a character witness for him at his trial. Check out Rex’s big scene towards the end of the movie where he explains himself in his own words. The scene will totally change how you feel about him.

Juli Erickson is just so damn good as Granny. She is totally fearless throughout the movie, from her flagrant racism to her “confused” scenes to her one brief sequence of nudity (it’s funny because, again, it’s something you don’t expect to see). And the scene in the hotel room where she thinks Ed is her lover? That scene could have been gross and weird, but Erickson makes it harrowing because she makes you believe she really believes that her grandson is her old lover. She doesn’t play it for laughs. Is the scene funny? Yes. But it wouldn’t matter emotionally if it had been played for laughs. Just great, great stuff.

Bryan Massey plays Steve as the biggest asshole meathead you’ve ever seen and is terrific. When is the last time you saw a movie where a sick person wasn’t sympathetic in any way, shape, or form? And Tyler Corie makes Davy a complicated kid. He’s made some big mistakes in his life but you can’t really hate him. You wish he was a bit more mature, though. You wish he wouldn’t get into it so often with Steve.

And Jennifer Shakeshaft/Jennifer Sipes is awesome as Sarah. Again, I’d love to see a movie totally devoted to her, her relationship with Ed (I can’t stress enough how charismatic they are as a couple), and whatever the hell it is she does at that artist’s commune place or whatever the hell it is. Are they essentially a kind of factory for handmade iron/metal wind chimes and whatnot? Is that a viable business?

Carried Away is a terrific indie drama comedy about a family. It’s a movie that shows you how people, even when they seem so far apart, really aren’t, and just how strong family bonds are. It also shows you, just in case you didn’t know, people are messed up, but you should never give up on them. People, even at their worst, can and will surprise you.

See Carried Away. See it, see it, see it. Carried Away is available to rent or purchase on both Vimeo and Amazon.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 0

Explosions: 0

Nudity? Briefly. It’s hilarious.

Doobage: Walker dragging, a chase through a field, walker throwing, barbed wire hooey, off screen hunting, multiple Christmas decorations, weight lifting, cigar smoking, casual racism, manager talking, golf playing, praying, old folks home hooey, alarm hooey, attempted map reading, table rubbing, more casual racism, credit card hooey, a sad story, attempted gross sex, doing the laundry, pharmacy hooey, burrito eating, a brief highway montage, off screen bar hooey, barfing, of screen truck stealing, hippie brunch, rock standing, stone block making, a wig, beer drinking, burping, dancing, even more casual racism, a big heart –to-heart discussion, mini-van hooey, a gas station argument, stranded out in the desert hooey, a hallucination horror montage, face punching, a roadside fist fight, truck stop hooey, cigarette stomping, another heart-to-heart talk, and earned reconciliation.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Talk of oxygen therapy, a dead deer on the roof, talk of a station wagon, an overhead shot of family dinner, bow and arrow practice at night, CB radio, a “Titanic” song, fist bump, a discussion of the word “negro,” old woman nudity, pissing on the side of the road, off screen getting shitfaced, people making metal objects in a foundry or something, a New Year’s Eve party, “Happy New Year!,” a hilarious discussion about menopause, a guy eating beef jerky while also checking his oil, an attempt to file a missing person’s report on the phone, rock throwing, and earned reconciliation.

Best lines: “Mrs. Franklin! Stop!,” “Easy come, easy go,” “Wow. Davy made the front page,” “Divorce isn’t an option for a Christian,” “Blue, I was going to eat that spaghetti,” “You’re not a dumbass, Davy,” “Oh, joyous day!,” “Where were you going when you ran away?,” “Damn kids! I told them to go play in their own yard!,” “Nice on, Dad. Thank ya,” “Rex, watch out! Davy’s not in!,” “California, here we come,” “They still got nana splits?,” “I’m an actor, Mom! I know the difference between psychotic and crazy!,” “I would like to speak to the manager,” “Nigger means black. It’s Spanish for black,” “Isn’t that kind of messed up, Dad?,” “Rise and shine, ladies. We’re burning daylight,” “Dad, can we stop at the pharmacy? I’m out of nasal spray,” “And a banana. Do you have cigars?,” “I gotta get back to the foundry,” “What kind of lawless country is this?,” “I think Eddie is sweet on you,” “Let’s go honky tonking!,” “What does Ed Franklin want?,” “Where are you going? I’m going home with that good looking nigger man!,” “Mom wants a divorce?,” “Life’s not fair, Steve,” “You’re going to get us killed and I’m going to get blamed for it!,” “I can’t believe you’re letting him ride with us!,” “Do you ever get tired of being an asshole?”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Carried Away, written and directed by Tom Huckabee, is a wonderful indie comedy drama that’s essentially about a family seemingly breaking apart around the holidays. Sweet but never saccharine and, at times, goddamn hilarious, it’s the kind of movie that makes a bad day seem not that bad at all. You may go into it not expecting much (if you’ve seen one indie comedy drama you’ve seen them all), but Carried Away will, I think, exceed your expectations by a mile and more. Filled with a great cast, amazing performances, expert direction, and an uplifting message about people (an uplifting message in the midst a sea of negativity), Carried Away is a movie that you should absolutely see.

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Carried Away, Bryan Kristopowitz