Movie Review (SXSW): ‘Recovery’ is a Hilarious Sibling Road Trip Story with Just Enough Adventure
Director: Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek
Stars: Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Anne Sward Hansen, Julia Jolley
Synopsis: Two directionless sisters brave a cross-country road trip to rescue their grandmother from a COVID outbreak at her nursing home.
Although it is important to remember to be open-minded, the only appropriate approach to a COVID centered film is to be skeptical. Recovery perfectly showcases COVID with comedy and an easily consumable watch that will actually have you laughing out loud instead of forcing anxiety induced relatable chuckles. The opening scene takes the audience back to pre-pandemic times, throwing us into a crowded birthday party full of actions that would make us shudder today: shared bowls of food, invasions personal space, and blowing on cake candles. For the record: no one should ever blow their spit all over a cake again.
An abrupt cut to two weeks later and sisters, roommates, and best friends Jamie (Whitney Call) and Blake (Mallory Everton) worlds are officially turned upside down with the rest of humankind. The news plays in the background over a sad montage of clips informing us of 50k plus positive cases in America, and how unknown the disease still is to experts and average people alike. When Jamie and Blake get an old school piece of snail-mail about their grandmother’s nursing home experiencing an outbreak. First, they try to contact their crazy, obnoxious COVID-denier sister, Erin (Julia Jolley), who lives closer to Nana than they do, but she is on a cruise with her family instead. The writing certainly plays up the ridiculousness of Erin’s attitude toward COVID, giving her characteristics of that person we all have unfortunately come to know during the past year of the pandemic. She is too privileged to think she could ever be affected or infected by a silly, deadly disease. Jamie and Blake know they have no other choice than to brave a road trip to save their Nana as fast they can get to her. The film becomes a race against the COVID clock, but also a race against getting to their Nana before Erin.
Just like any good road trip movie, the sisters face obstacles and diversions along the way. This is where their comedy and chemistry continue to shine bright. They two leads are quick, witty, and energized, feeding off of their connection to continue to bring genuine relatable laughs. The narrative could have benefited more from moments outside of the vehicle, but it does not lessen the strength of their consistent delivery, never getting too serious or far from the focus. They navigate pumping gas, unexpectedly getting their period, going to a stranger’s house to retrieve their Nana’s dog, dealing with car troubles, a motorcyclist spitting in their mouth, and a pre-COVID first date follow-up that goes horribly wrong and completely hilarious. There are a couple over-the-top moments that serve as a punchline of a joke, but you are so charmed and in love with these sisters it is easy to look past because it is still good hearted. Recovery provides just enough adventure that when the resolution is reached at the end, it feels right on time instead of overstaying its welcome. Any film that can pull off not only one good Tom Hanks joke but two, should get its credit where it is due. Add this film to your list of must-see fun, hilarious women friendship adventure films like the under appreciated Unpregnant (2020) or the acclaimed Booksmart (2019), and check out Recovery as soon as it becomes available.