95 Miles to Go

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 03/20/06 10:17:45

"The Ray Romano Road Trip Experience"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: It must be due to my rather snobbish attitude where sitcoms are concerned, but I've seen maybe five full episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond." Despite being a big fan of Ray Romano and his dry, droll comedic style, I just never really warmed up to the series all that much. But after laughing my head off during Romano's road trip / concert flick, "95 Miles to Go," I just might have to scan the syndication listings and catch up on the sitcom. Romano's really just that funny.

Ray Romano and Tom Caltabiano are old and loyal pals, veterans of the stand-up circuits who hit it (really) big when Ray landed himself a smash-hit sitcom and hired Tom as his head writer. The fact that they're both millionaires these days has done little to dampen their jocular affection for one another ... which is what makes 95 Miles to Go a whole lot of fun. It'd be pretty easy to slap together a low-budget travel com-doc if you really wanted to, but it's the chemistry between Ray and Tom that makes 95 a whole lot better than that.

Join Ray and Tom as they travel through most of Florida, stopping only to eat, sleep, and perform in about a half-dozen sold-out venues. Those expecting a non-stop stand-up parade should be aware that much of 95 Miles to Go takes place in a hotel or a rental van, material which is usually just as amusing as are the on-stage antics. Those who've seen every last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond might recognize some of the schtick doled out here, but those folks are precisely the ones who'd adore a 75-minute road-trip with their favorite comedian, anyway.

Although crisply shot and efficiently constructed, 95 Miles to Go is no sort of visual tour-de-force. If anyone aside from Romano and Caltabiano are to be commended for the flick, it'd have to be young filmmaker Roger Lay and his editor Cheyenne Pesko. The kids must have had at least 300 hours of material to wade through, and the stuff they chose for the final cut is pretty much hilarious across the board.

Produced, not surprisingly, by the comedy division over at HBO, "95 Miles to Go" brings you a slickly amusing and consistently entertaining fly-on-the-wall experience. If, however, the idea of being stuck in a mini-van with Ray Romano sounds like a fine example of torture, I'd recommend you look for laughs elsewhere.

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