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By Joshua Grover-David Patterson | August 17, 2004

There’s a character in this film named Charlie. He causes a remarkable amount of trouble, considering his remains are currently in a bait canister.

Charlie is, of course, dead, and his remains are supposed to be scattered by his two best fishing buddies, JT and Hollis. The two men are supposed to scatter his ashes into their fishing spot, something they are reluctant to do.

The reason they don’t want to scatter them is set up as a secret, and one that I won’t spoil here. Previous to that revelation, the friends try to work out what it all means.

Is there a heaven? Do we get what we deserve when we die? Is being old something that happens to you, or is it just a state of mind?

What makes these questions troubling is that there are no answers to them anywhere in this life. These two characters, the people who made the movie, I, the writer, and you, the reader, all may have different answers to them, which is something the film acknowledges.

Where the film flounders is that it doesn’t really provide anything new to chew on in one of the oldest philosophical debates. It simply takes its two characters, gives them two different viewpoints, and presents a few tired old ideas.

This is unfortunate, as the film’s script hamstrings an otherwise wonderful production. Both actors are excellent (both formerly appearing in “Northern Exposure” together, they have an Emmy nomination and a Tony award between them). The music is lovely. The location is stunning and beautifully shot. That the film was shot digitally (the credits proclaim that no celluloid was harmed during the making of this film) but with the exception of one shot, you’d never be able to tell.

It just makes you wish the film were better. In particular, the film’s aforementioned secret feels like a letdown when it finally comes out. It seems to impact only one living person, and the buildup to that point is so weak that the explosion is almost nil.

In the end, this film is just a little too much like the boat in which JT and Hollis are sitting. It looks good, but the motor isn’t powerful enough to give it the kind of drive for which it’s begging.

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