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Journey, The (2003)
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by Chris Parry

"Please accept this as my official resignation from full-time film criticism"
5 stars

I went to go see The Journey because, well, it was playing at the right time. The flick had played three years previously at SXSW and was now playing as part of a ten-year retrospective, so I'd figured it was pretty much old news. But hey, a free flick in a theater beats hotel room Cinemax anytime, and there was a party being held afterwards where the booze would be flowing, so suit me up, spank my ass and send me on my way. At least that was my plan, but ninety minutes later I was a changed man. I'd been made aware of the fact that I was living a lie. The Journey showed me that I'd spent the best part of a decade lying to myself that I was indeed following my dream. After the film, I told director Eric Saperston that my review would be my resignation letter and that his film may well have changed my life, and he kind of nodded and smiled and asked if I was going to the party and went back to handshaking as if he hears this kind of thing all the time. Well, after listening in on his conversation for a while, I now know he does hear that kind of thing all the time. This is a guy who made a movie that is changing people's lives all over the country, and I guess there's only so many times you can hear that kind of thing before you ask 'well great, so when is someone going to buy my fucking movie'?

The Journey is a documentary. It's essentially the video diary of four friends jumping into a Minibus with a view to driving across America, stopping only to talk to the rich, the famous, the inspirational and the awe-worthy of the 'middle age' generation.

Their plan: Talk to the finest minds of the generation above their own and find out what it is that these people know that Generation Y does not. Would the secrets to life be found therein, or would they merely find someone to bankroll a fun year-long adventure that amounted to nothing? Or would they do neither of the above and end up paying for gas by selling grilled cheese sandwiches at rest-stops for a buck as their friendships fall apart?

Actually, all of the above. Along the way they score a development deal at Disney, have catastrophic mechanical breakdowns that threaten to strand them, disintegrate a long-term friendship, get adopted by Henry Winkler, and talk to hundreds of large, medium-sized and small names from a variety of industries and lifestyles, all of whom have valuable snippets of information that, when combined, make for a genuinely important message.

So I resign. Yup, I'm serious, I shall no longer consider myself a 'film journalist'. Maybe I already knew it, but I'm quite sure that my path in life is not to write about other people's films, my path is to make the films that others write about. The Journey did this to me, shining a big bright light on my life and asking me the big question; 'are you REAAAAAAAALLY doing what you want to do in life?' For an hour I answered The Journey with a big 'Yes, I am, fuck you for even suggesting otherwise,' but it broke me down. It made me understand that I was following the safer path of the unsafe paths before me.

I *thought* I was being a fast-living rebel, choosing the life of a freelancer, eating Ramen Noodles for six years while my name got around the glossy magazine circuit and the money started to trickle in. I'd taken pride in annoying my family by choosing a life of poverty-stricken writing instead of the nine-to-five they'd have chosen for me. I *thought* I was doing well, getting reviews and interviews and articles and books out there for consumption by the masses and finally getting to a point where I'm making good coin, but The Journey is a nasty little bastard - it won't let go until you admit it: There's *something* out there that you want, be it a better career, better relationship, or a family that doesn't sport a 'dys' before the 'functional'... and you're not doing everything you could be doing to make that thing happen.

And before you say 'yeah sure, this guy is all talk,' guess again. At the time that this review is being written, a friend of mine is pulling together a film crew, we've signed a location, cast an ensemble of actors, and this coming Sunday my first short film goes into production. I'm doing it, naysayer, puttin my money where my mouth is and leaving the safety of the niche I'd carved for myself. I'm doing it because I know I've always wanted to, and if I fail it won't be for lack of trying.

And that's the real success of The Journey, that it makes you do stuff. Or at the very least, it makes you *want* to do stuff. Eric Saperston and his gang, by either luck or design, have managed to piece together one of the most poignant feature film experiences I've had the pleasure of watching. The response to this film from the crowd in attendance at SXSW was amazing. Not everyone got the same thing out of the experience as I did, but everyone got something out of it.

Saperston's personality is very infectious on the screen and his friends are likely to remind you of your very own. That's what makes The Journey such a real experience for an audience, that these people are the sort of folks we'd hang out with, yet there they are, throwing away their jobs, climbing into a van and just making it happen. When they need cash, they think up a scam. When they need somewhere to stay, they call on friends of friends. When they want to talk to someone who should, by rights, be inaccessible to them, they just call and ask and beg and plead. And when they meet the crew for MTV's The Real World, they steal one of their camera crew away to join their own team and go adventuring.

The lesson in The Journey is really simple - everything in life is a lesson, and what doesn't kill you can really make you stronger. With those bits of knowledge in mind, there really should be nothing we as people can't achieve, or at least *try* to achieve. So why do we keep slogging away in our nine-to-fives while guys like Saperton go follow their dreams? I'll leave that answer to you - I'm going to be too busy following my own dream to be concerned with your excuses.

- NOTE - For more information on where you can see The Journey, or order a DVD copy, visit the official website at

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/01/03 16:26:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/21/03 Jenny Kuhn inspiring. I want to take off in a van. And I will. 5 stars
6/05/03 tom maurer Excellent 5 stars
4/01/03 Bluto McBlurt Great fun, but that Eric dude is an ass. 4 stars
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  02-Apr-2003 (NR)



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