Upon receiving my note yesterday afternoon that I'd be cutting out early to attend a screening of the Sean Penn-produced film Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer's book based around the story of Christopher McCandless's adventures that end tragically in the shell of a school bus in the Alaskan wilderness, editor Mike Seely had this to say in an email:
"That movie looks soooooo hit or miss to me. on the one hand, killer book, and vince vaughn and catherine keener are in it. on the other hand, sean penn's pet projects can be super pretentious; and emile hirsch is super-annoying, like leo dicaprio lite."
He was spot on. Killer book, yes. Vince Vaughn (as a colorful grain harvester who McCandless meets during his travels) and Catherine Keener (as one half of a free floating "rubber tramp" couple who McCandless also encounters on the road) are shining stars in a sea of Emile Hirsch's Leo Dicaprio lite. Unfortunately they don't have nearly enough screen time to balance it out.
In spite of the prentention potential and Hirsch's grating performance, the film captures some of our countries most beautiful terrain- from the tundra to the Grand Canyon- and makes a solid case for the appeal of leaving the tethers of society behind. Eddie Vedder contributed a selection of original songs to the soundtrack, sparse and beautiful, complimenting the film's lonesome tone nicely.
Overall, it's entertaining, beautiful to watch and makes you think about how best to spend your limited time on earth. Case in point: Immediately following the screening, a fellow viewer exclaimed the film to be "a waste of 2 1/2 hours."