Directed by: Mallory Everton & Stephen Meek
Written by: Whitney Call & Mallory Everton
Starring: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Julia Jolley, Anne Sward Hansen
Cross-country road trips come with their own level of stress in planning all the details, ensuring a basic level of entertainment while out on the road, and then just driving the obscene amount of miles that must be undertaken. Adding in the pressures of getting to your grandmother’s nursing home as the Coronavirus rages through the country certainly does not help in alleviating the inherent stress. However, in moments where things could have gone bleak, Stop and Go gravitates towards the comically absurd just in the time when it’s needed.
With nursing home patients dying at a rampant rate, Jamie (Whitney Call) and Blake (Mallory Everton) decide they need to get their grandmother out of there before the virus gets to her. Together they embark on a road trip with very strict rules in order to avoid infection but face quite a number of hurdles as the world has seemingly gone mad.
Coming through along with a bevy of 2021 independent features, which the Coronavirus impacted filmmaking in a noticeable manner, this feature includes the virus into the film’s narrative. Now, for some, it may take away from the escapist aspect films bring to their lives, understandably. Movies serve as a way to transport us outside of the madness occurring in our own world, which would make me not blame anyone for being hesitant in checking out this movie. However, a counterpoint must be made in the defense and support of Stop and Go in saying, this movie is pretty freaking hilarious in all the best ways. Even with the virus serving as a focal point in the story, the rest of the narrative creates such a high degree of ridiculous comedy to help distract from it all in such an entertaining manner.
Most of what occurs in the feature come from conversations held between Jamie and Blake but it all works so well because of the insane amount of chemistry held between actors Whitney Call and Mallory Everton. Both contribute additionally in the writing and/or directing phase of the feature as well, these two catch lightning in a bottle for the hilarious rapport these two build as the film goes along. At no moment does the film feel like a chore because these two actors absolutely refuse to let it with their unhinged level of zaniness. A comparison one critic made describes this film as a combination of Booksmart and Locke as it captures the fantastic comedy of the former and the restrictive conversationalist nature of the latter. Certainly an apt comparison. Most of their interactions outside of the car occur through phone calls or Facetime, but it remains just as engaging throughout.
Reviewing this feature definitely allowed for some reflection on the different stages of the pandemic and the attitudes of the average American these girls run into in this journey. Going from a time where individuals like Jamie and Blake have fear in merely touching gas pumps but then others who doubt the pandemic even truly exists. The film’s accuracy in the extremes of awareness embedded throughout this feature certainly do not paint Americans in the greatest of lights but also in a comedic manner as well. From the barbecue they drive by where the two women see a huge unmasked gathering to their dumb relative going out to try and pick up the grandmother first, Stop and Go truly serves as a bookmark for where we were in such a specific stage of this pandemic. One stage of many, it never hurts to remember the perceptions and attitudes of individuals before the implementation of the vaccine comes in. You can only imagine how this film would have looked in that stage of the pandemic as well.
Hard to believe a film with the pandemic at the center of the story could elicit so many laughs, but it demonstrates what makes Stop and Go a film to seek out and enjoy. All of the success comes down to the two lead actors, Whitney Call and Mallory Everton seeing as their infectious chemistry never lets up for even a second. Their weirdness becomes their strong suit and the absurd levels to which their misadventures go serve as their own little form of escapism. Call and Everton deserve bright and shining comedy careers because they help create something so wildly entertaining and hopefully enough people seek this movie out to appreciate their efforts.