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‘Don’t Make Me Go’ Indeed: Sappy’s Story Goes Off Track

John Cho and Mia Isaac in “Don’t Make Me Go”. (Photo by Geoffrey Short)

“Don’t Make Me Go” (109 min, rated PG-13 for language, sexual content, suggestive content, teen drug use and alcohol use). 6 out of 10

For all of its well-meaning and heartfelt moments of father-daughter bonding, there’s just too much dripping sentiment in this over-complicated melodrama for viewers to bear. Directed by Hannah Marks from a screenplay by Vera Herbert which she wrote in 2012, “Don’t Make Me Go” hits a lot of high points in its depiction of a single dad desperately trying to connect with his sex-crazed teenage daughter. sex, which lands on a bittersweet note at the end.

Billed as a road movie between Max Park (John Cho), father of his 16-year-old daughter Wally (Mia Isaac), sharing many precious moments with each other after Max learns he’s been diagnosed with a deadly tumor se developing at the base of his skull. The doctor, a ‘cancer expert’, tells him he has about a year to live – or chooses to have surgery in which his chance of survival is around 20%. What a difficult situation: experiencing slow death or rolling the dice in surgery. And what’s the name Wally for a girl? Really! Either way, just when Max and Wally reach a crossroads in their caustic relationship trying to set some ground rules for the future, she’s boy-crazed and about to lose her virginity, this medical condition appears. Things were already complicated enough, and with Max having an impersonal relationship with his cold girlfriend, Annie (Kaya Scodelario), he must now decide how to break the news to his daughter.

First off, Max unwittingly doesn’t ask for a second or even third opinion on what he says is a deadly disease, which shocked me. Then he decides not to opt for surgery and to live the last months of his life dying slowly. It’s not fighting – it’s giving up. Internalizing all of this except telling Annie (who is really a detached supporting character), he convinces Wally to take a road trip to his college reunion in New Orleans – then secretly takes him to see his mother, Nicole ( Jen Van Epps), now lives in Florida. The problem is that he will teach her to drive during the trip. So they set off from Los Angeles on what’s supposed to be a good trip of love, truth, and life lessons learned between father and daughter — and preparing her for a future without a father.

That’s just the premise behind what turns out to be an overly complex subplot story scripted in an episodic format taking Max and Wally to new levels of understanding, plenty of twists and turns of mistrust, sorting out things that might have been more easily dealt with if he was frank with her. But no, he wants to do it that way – in a messy way – and it only makes things worse for him as he deals with the emotional trauma on his own, deciding not to tell her. Wally is portrayed as a real handful – an upstart teenager with a mind of her own, questioning just about everything her father wishes for her in what turns out to be a love-hate-love series, va- back and forth bickering with her constantly defying her authority – even straying with boys without her knowledge.

In the end, “Don’t Make Me Go” finally reaches the end when Max reveals his condition to Wally, which is not well, then takes him to meet his wayward mother, Nicole who abandoned her child at 3 years old. , what is wrong. t go well, then has the temerity to pull the rug from under our feet in the last 10 minutes. It’s almost unforgivable to imagine how the tables are turned when history does a 180 that you don’t see coming. As much as I was impressed by the performances of Cho and Isaac (the youngster is gifted), the ebb and flow of an awkward episodic storyline felt too imposed and melodramatic to be believed. It ended on a sadder and unsympathetic note than the feel-good ending you expected.

“Don’t Make Me Go” premiered on Prime Video on July 15.

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