Thunder Road

Studio:
Directed by Jim Cummings

Oct 12, 2018 Web Exclusive
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As Thunder Road opens, Jim (Jim Cummings) is frantically trying to get his CD player to work. Dressed fully in his police uniform, he enters a church, carrying the pink CD player and sits in a pew at his mother's funeral. When it's his turn to speak, he gives a rambling, possibly unhinged eulogy of his mom, explaining that she loved Bruce Springsteen's song "Thunder Road." She was a dance teacher and he was eager to honor her, set to the titular song, through dance at the funeral.

Well, the CD player doesn't work when it's time to play the song and Jim's already head scratcher of a speech evolves into a full meltdown. The entire sequence - done in one shot - is a big, over-the-top moment for the characters, walking the line of cringe comedy and tragedy, which sets the tone for all of Thunder Road.

Things don't always seem to go Jim's way and it appears they haven't done so for much of his life. He loves his daughter Crystal (Kendal Farr) but she seems to have a strong resistance to him, mostly thanks to Jim's ex-wife (Jocelyn DeBoer), who has engaged him in a bitter custody battle. On top of that, he gets himself into some trouble at work, maybe coming back a bit too soon after the passing of his mother.

Thunder Road is light on plot but focuses entirely on Jim amidst a breakdown. His mother's death appears to have been the straw that broke the camel's back but it appears Jim's life was leading to this moment in time.

Cummings wrote and directed the feature, based on his 2016 short film, in what is clearly a passion project. Jim is never a character for the audience to point their fingers at in judgment or laugh at, even when the movie veers heavily into trying to make you uncomfortable. More often than not, Thunder Road is heartbreaking because Jim always seems to aim to do right by everyone around him can't ever seem to please anyone. All conveyed in Cummings' tour-de-force performance, Thunder Road is about grief and guilt, hopelessness and hopefulness.

Author rating: 8/10

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