This movie takes me back. Not all the way back to 1962, I’m not remotely that old, but more circa 2002, when I was on my own teenage journey of self-discovery. More importantly, that was around the time I met my once-in-a-lifetime friend, and we began our shenanigans that continue to this day, even though we’re an ocean apart.
Max the Wax (Isabelle Fuhrman, Don’t Let Me Go, The Hunger Games) is Ellie (Liana Liberato, The Best of Me, If I Stay)’s once-in-a-lifetime friend. The kind that, in this case, takes her on a crazy cross-country road trip to visit Eleanor Roosevelt, the woman that inspired Ellie’s late mother to an extent that keeps on giving.
Did I mention that these girls are only fifteen? Yeah. But don’t worry, Ellie’s mom was a feminist that taught her how to drive (and she had a blue convertible that serves as the perfect getaway car). And so begins one of their greatest adventures, which will include befriending a convict who’s escaped from Alcatraz (Josh Lucas, Hear My Song, Little Accidents), reviving the showbiz dreams of Max’s Aunt Daisy (Jessica Alba, Mechanic: Resurrection, The Veil), and restoring hope to Ellie’s father, Bob (Luke Wilson, All We Had, The Ridiculous 6). That’s a pretty productive road trip in my book.
But what I really loved about this movie was the unexpected nostalgia. I don’t normally relate to young adult films, to be quite honest. Due to a chronic illness, my teenage years held weightier issues than crushes and proms (though I had those too). But what I can relate to are adventures with one’s bestest-best friend. That’s what this film made me think of.
There’s a fabulous moment where Max comes to the convertible with lipstick, sunglasses, and a headscarf, absolutely ready to start her trip with style, and I had to laugh. On my first major trip with my bestie we thought it would be a good idea to dress up. I had some amazing five-inch, patent red stilettos for the occasion, and my feet hurt so badly by the end of it that any enthusiastic glamour I may have started out with was whittled down to a stiff upper lip as I was nearly reduced to tears by the pain! Fortunately Max and Ellie have better fashion moments than I did. It’s set in the 1960’s, after all. The costumes are divine, but still relatable. One can imagine wearing them every day, with a little extra effort. Maybe one day I’ll try wearing stilettos to travel again.
This light-hearted love letter to besties everywhere packs a punch as it deals with difficult family dynamics, the importance of not giving up on your dreams, and the privilege it is to carry the torch for someone else’s dreams when they’re no longer able to continue. There are a lot of emotions here, but not the sappy kind. I laughed the whole way through, and basically marvelled at the unexpectedly epic way the story was told. It’s not your typical teenagers-road-trip-and-hijinks-ensue film. It was fun, it was relatable, it was light, and it brought back scores of fond memories.
Watch it. I hope you enjoy your own road trip down memory lane as much as I did. Here’s to BFF’s who make life an adventure.