Amanda & Jack Go Glamping
2017, NR, 94 min. Directed by Brandon Dickerson. Starring David Arquette, Amy Acker, Adan Canto, Nicole Elliott, Daniel Ross Owens, June Squibb, Chris Carpenter.
REVIEWED By Danielle White, Fri., Nov. 10, 2017
What do you get when you fall in love? A couple of cute kids, an underwater mortgage, and a dash of bitter resentment from the crushing reality that you’re not the adult your 18-year-old self thought you would be? Life is something like that for the titular couple in Amanda & Jack Go Glamping, written and directed by Brandon Dickerson (A Single Frame). Jack (Arquette, bloated and gray) and Amanda (Acker, the opposite) are on the verge of divorce now that Jack’s writing career is on the rocks and the magic has shriveled after 15 years. So they take a little romantic getaway (not a unique remedy by any means) to Green Acres in Elgin, Texas. They find themselves in the company of a pair of newlyweds (Elliott & Owens) and their Instagram-ready clan, complete with traveling photo booth.
The good vibes are just too much for Jack, and he gets increasingly rude and even a little violent. Arquette wears his trademark squint, at times really scrunching into it, which gives him the look of a guy who can hardly stand himself. He oozes a stench of self-pity that acts as a social repellent. He’s complicated and toxic, a fully developed character, and I wish I could say the same for his counterpart. Amanda isn’t given much of a backstory, and she seems awfully chipper for a woman who’s considering taking her two kids and moving to her brother’s. She’s just the other half of the marriage, the half that isn’t falling apart. There’s nothing wrong with Acker’s performance; it just feels a bit incongruous given the circumstances.
The Glamping soundtrack is heavy on Eighties pop, and the film references from that decade are aplenty. Even the props are dated, albeit in a purposefully pretentious way – a typewriter and vintage Polaroid camera are part of the furnishings in the camper at Green Acres. It’s an attempt to conjure the past. Which, in a sense, is precisely what Amanda and Jack are there to do. And while there’s some type of metaphor wrapped around a donkey that lives on the farm – Jack mumbles something about Puck during a drunken bro-hang – there’s nothing so whimsical about this story. Sometimes we just need to retreat before we can progress.