Sunday, September 2, 2007

10 MPH

This is an odd little 2007 documentary where director Hunter Weeks, and friend Josh Caldwell quit their stuffy cubicle jobs and decided to travel across the country. The only catch was that they they were doing it on a segway- with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. Accompanying them were student Alon Waisman (who got his University to sponsor some of the venture), and Week's sister, Gannon. Working behind the scenes was "J Fred" a friend who put forth money and logistics. This is quite the tale of a group of people trying to recapture the American adventurous spirit. It wasn't the most interesting movie ever, but it was certainly a original one.

These people really are not film makers. It's like giving a video camera to a high schooler and telling him to make a feature length documentary. It's a messy movie, but in a way that adds to the story. It serves to enhance their gung-ho "Let's just do this" attitude. It seems as if they filmed absolutely everything, and roughly cut together a chronological account of what they found entertaining (whether the audience did or not).

Along the way they met an interesting cast of characters from ever state they drove through. Bikers who tried to understand the thrill of going so slow, River rafters who try to live as simply as possible, more than their fair share of highway patrol, and big city dwellers who all swear they and only they know where the best food is. As cliched as the term sounds, this really was a nice little slice of Americana. It captures real Americans in their real surroundings, acting like they really do. It gives insight into people's lives and opinions that politicians spend millions of dollars trying to get at- and these guys just had to pull a crazy stunt like this and bring a video camera.

There were parts that just seemed to not matter. Jokes they included only seemed to make sense to them. It was not without conflict, however. Spending a hundred days on the road is hard enough, but when it's on the back of a segway (Josh rode the segway the entire 4,000 miles, while Hunter sometimes rode a second one, and sometimes rode in the chase car). They ran into financial trouble when one of their supporters backed out, and Hunter had to cash in some of his retirement money, and they were often almost arrested.

In the end, however, every trial is worth something. Was it worth it travel across the country, essentially hemorrhaging money they didn't have? They experienced something that none of us will, they accomplished something that the normal person would only suggest in their wildest anecdotes, and they captured what America really is. Forget patriotic flagophiles, the people in this movie- from the miner/potter, to the biker crashing the segway, to the Amish carriage drivers- are America. This wasn't the most well constructed piece ever, but they did it. They had an idea, went through, and no matter what the cost- they did it. That's more than most people would do, and you have to respect that.


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