I left this film both depressed and invigorated. Depressed, because the film is dead-on in its portrayal of what is it to be a guy, and worse, a guy getting old. I may have years ahead of me before it gets as dire for me as it did for the leads in the film but… Dirt Nap is like looking in a crystal ball and seeing your future. Your sad, wasted potential, could’ve-been-a-contender future.
As I said, though, I also left feeling invigorated because it’s never going to be too late. You just have to accept that you’ll never be what you were, what you could be is still up in the air and all you’ll ever really have is what you are, so you might as well do that to the best of your ability and forget the past and the future. Yeah, I got all that from one film.
Dirt Nap is actor D.B. Sweeney’s feature film directorial debut. A guy’s film if there ever was one, the film tells the story of three friends that have hit that all too common mid-life crossroads. Mark (John C. McGinley) is the former high school football God whose days are spent dodging bookies and visiting his sick father, Jason (Paul Hipp) is the Office Max nerd who can’t seem to land a girl (probably because he never shuts up, is relentlessly needy and is completely brow-beaten by his mother) and Billy (director Sweeney) is the former rock star who traded in his electric for an acoustic a long time ago. When Jason wins tickets to a college championship football game, and the s**t hits the fan for Billy and Mark, the group decides to head to Florida for the game.
What elevates this film above what could be considered stereotypical mid-life crisis fare is that none of the characters come across as over-dramatized caricatures of real people, they are real people, and they’re trying desperately to work through the situation as best they can. No one has the answers, and it’s not one life-changing epiphany after another. It’s slow emotional evolution.
John C. McGinley carries the majority of the film’s emotional weight, as he’s the guy with the most to lose (and seemingly the most Hell-bent on losing), and his performance is easily one of the best of his career. Whether you agree with every step or mis-step he takes, you never doubt that he feels he’s doing the right thing somehow, even as he pushes his friends and family away. Paul Hipp and D.B. Sweeney bring their A-games as well, with Sweeney playing the guy who may not’ve been the brightest in the pack but was most likely at one point the coolest while Hipp’s Jason was obviously the guy the other two copied test answers from.
All philosophical musing and quality acting aside, though, this is a guy’s film. Debates about music and sports, copious cigar smoking, beer drinking and countless piss-breaks all add up to an experience so loaded with testosterone everyone leaves the theater with a deeper voice. This is not to say that the ladies can’t enjoy it. Hell, I think a film this brutally honest and open with guy-ness should be required viewing for any lady trying to figure out why her man won’t throw out that beat-up guitar or motorcycle that hasn’t run in twenty years.
In the end, director Sweeney has put together a film that is as entertaining as it is emotionally challenging. There’s not a false moment in the film, and you too may find yourself walking away pondering what is to come, where you’ve been and who you really are.