Sundowners is a comedic story about two friends who crash a wedding in Mexico under the semi-false pretenses of being professional photographers. Written and Directed by Pavan Moondi, this is, unfortunately, an unfocused mess of a story, albeit one with two tremendous leads, beautiful cinematography, and some genuinely laugh out loud moments. Oh, and if you’re a fan of Tim Heidecker, he kills it in this. I wanted to like this movie, but it’s my ultimate opinion that it just doesn’t know what it wants to say, or when it should say it. Sundowners is an uneven, messy film that can’t outshine its flaws.
“…it just doesn’t know what it wants to say, or when it should say it.”
Phil Hanley and Luke Lalonde play best friends Alex and Justin. Alex is a wedding photographer that works for his boss Tom. Tom is a deliciously smarmy bastard who’s terribly unorganized and noticeably spineless. Justin thanklessly watched over his tragically senile Grandmother, holds down an hourly job, and recently broke up with his girlfriend. When Tom gives Alex the opportunity to shoot a wedding in Mexico, Alex recruits Justin as his photographer despite Justin not actually being a photographer. The two find themselves in a paradise resort in Mexico encountering odd characters and interjecting themselves into the drama that tends to occur during most weddings. Hanley and Lalonde are great actors, and they play off each other expertly. You actually believe that they are friends; from the way they joke with one another to the way they fight it out later on in the film. I hate to say it, but the story of the film fails them. We see Justin awkwardly converse with his ex-girlfriend early on in a scene that borders on cringe-worthy, but it takes a very mature and dark turn that brings said awkwardness crashing into harsh reality. You’d think this conversation would have ramifications on the character further along in the story, but it doesn’t. It’s never really referenced after that, so why put it in the story in the first place? Despite having impeccable chemistry, the two leads have these annoying “deep” conversations that just always seem to go nowhere. They get really annoying; especially during the way too long sequence of them trying to find their hotel room. A lot of the humor and gags go on way too long, effectively killing what might have been a funny bit. To the film’s credit, there are some moments that do work, but a majority were misses for me. This film doesn’t know whether it wants to be a wacky situational comedy about two friends falling into increasingly stressful situations, or an existential examination on their respective lives. Pick one or the other, because blending the two isn’t working for this story.
“Despite wonderful performances, there’s just not enough of an enjoyable journey to invest your time in.”
The film is wonderfully well shot. Some of it looks straight out of a stylish music video. Peter Dreimanis and Scott McClellan do a fantastic job with the cinematography, expertly capturing the beautiful Mexico setting, while Pavan Moondi who also serves as the film’s editor does a brilliant job arranging everything in a satisfactory manner. I can’t recommend this movie. I really wish I could but it criminally has no focus and it feels scattered and uncommitted. Despite wonderful performances, there’s just not enough of an enjoyable journey to invest your time in. I’d like to everyone involved in this film work with a tighter script. The talent and charm are undeniably there, it’s just the film’s story that completely falters.
Sundownders (2017) Written and Directed by: Pavan Moondi. Starring: Phil Hanley, Luke Lalonde, Tom Heidecker, Nick Flanagan, James Hartnett, David John Phillips, Cara Gee, Leah Fay Goldstein.
7 out of 10