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3 reviews, 2 user ratings

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95 Miles to Go
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by William Goss

"Ray On The Road"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Without ever watching a single entire episode of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and only catching his nasal voice work between the 'Ice Age' films and once on 'The Simpsons,' Ray Romano seems to have virtually eluded my entertainment radar for the most part. However, outside of the occasional glimpse of his amusing stand-up skills, '95 Miles To Go' showcases Romano as quite the capable comedian even when he’s just a regular guy.

In 2004, Romano makes his way to several shows throughout Florida and Georgia, accompanied by director and opening act Tom Caltabiano, a writer for the sitcom, and young cameraman Roger Lay Jr., an intern for the sitcom. What follows is essentially the home movie of flight-fearing Romano and company as they drive from Miami to Tampa to Clearwater to Orlando to Jacksonville to Savannah to Atlanta over the course of roughly eight days, a thousand miles, and 130 hours of footage, pared down to a 81-minute feature full of genuine amusement and little else. One gets to observe Romano in all his naturally neurotic glory, as he struggles with his colleague’s constant tardiness, his personal mind bets (for which he always locates loopholes), reeking window tinting, rabid fans, and quite possibly the world’s most expensive dump (you’ve got to see it to get it), all the while still adjusting to his reasonably newfound fame.

The documentary doesn’t provide tremendous insight into the stand-up industry or a scathing indictment of entertainment perceptions, instead opting to casually chronicle the chronically comical journey of its participants, the majority of which takes place off-stage. Caltabiano doesn’t necessarily stun with his directorial debut, but he can certainly hold his own in the humor department, while Lay simply lies back and records all the fussing and frivolity as it unfolds. There is a refreshing deficit of pretense and ego in both its subjects and execution, and judicious editing makes for a remarkably steady and relatively tame stream of laughs, chuckles, and the like (a fellatio reference amongst a corporate presentation gives Ray legitimate cause for concern), all the while alluding to potential nuggets that may hopefully materialize on an eventual DVD release. It all comes together to form something like an anti-concert film, a homemade and humorous record of two stand-up stars behind the scenes and living life with utter modesty and the occasional touch of self-deprecation that marks not only their performances, but their personality.

Most of the appeal comes from the simple fact that one is watching two pals crack wise between minivan seats and hotel beds with an ease and chemistry that seems familiar for anyone with rather funny friends, whether they be confined comics or otherwise. Fans of Romano’s sitcom and stand-up work should be quite satisfied, while foes aren’t likely to be swayed. As for the rest of us, the humble charm of '95 Miles To Go' makes for quite an entertaining trip for most anyone who could use a few good laughs. Everybody may not love Raymond, but he’s a hard guy not to like.

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originally posted: 06/02/06 18:50:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/08/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
7/24/07 Abby Bettencourt BORING. Who the hell cares about Ray and his skinny, tiny-headed friend? 1 stars
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Directed by
  Tom Caltabiano

Written by

  Ray Romano
  Tom Caltabiano
  Roger Lay Jr.

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