Sometimes, a road trip brings good vibes and a change of scenery from the usual “stay at home” shtick or working around the clock every day of the week. It’s kind of like taking a vacation, but this time for hours straight in an automobile.
Directors Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek bring us a feature that utilizes the COVID-19 pandemic to establish most of its gags and chemistry between its two female leads. Whitney Call and Everton herself, both the screenwriters (and the latter being one of the directors), star as the clueless sisters in this low-budget story as Jamie and Blake, respectively.
The film initiates with the pre-COVID birthday moment where both sisters are eager for the future (Jamie is a pink-haired elementary school teacher, and Blake is falling in love with a muscular man). Then, tragedy strikes as the film transitions to March 30th (aka the first days of the pandemic). The two depend on each other while maintaining safety protocols. They get the word about the virus breaking out at their grandma’s nursing home, and since their older sister Erin is heading on a cruise, they must venture out to do it themselves.
The journey stays filled with breezy car talk, sisterly moments, and constant comedic jabs towards the virus outbreak (ex. Blake and her physical interaction at a gas station or a dream sequence Jamie has about the deaths of them all, including Tom Hanks). It’s a light-toned feature with a realized screenplay on deck. Call and Everton recognize the pandemic’s toll on all populations, but they keep a tight story in check that is enjoyable. Some of it resembles a cross between Booksmart, Locke, and arguably, Thelma & Louise.
The film continues to build momentum every several minutes, even if some of the gags become repetitive. We get it, Blake is pining over a guy on Tinder, and some 9-year-old awkwardly continues to communicate with Jamie (while she has entrusted him to watch her pet rats). Still, the characters’ lines come presented in a realistic fashion rather than contrived lines we hear in other films.
But this feature understands that we need a bit of levity in troublesome times to ease ourselves back in the right direction. Stop and Go is not a cure, but it serves well to relieve one’s worries temporarily and is one of the better road-trip comedies out there.