Time: 92 Minutes
Jim Cummings as Jim Arnaud
Kendal Farr as Crystal Arnaud
Nican Robinson as Nate Lewis
Macon Blair as Dustin Zahn
Jocelyn DeBoer as Rosalind Arnaud
Chelsea Edmundson as Morgan Arnaud
Jordan Fox as Doug
Director: Jim Cummings
A police officer (Jim Cummings) faces a personal meltdown following a divorce and the death of his mother.
I was hearing some hype for Thunder Road from some people, not from awards shows or anything, just from some people heavy into film on social media. It’s not a film that’s particularly well known and its very much independent, there are no big names involved. With that said, I’m glad I heard about it and I’m glad I saw it, because Thunder Road is a good little hidden gem and is well worth the watch.
Thunder Road is actually based off the short film also written, directed and starring Jim Cummings. That short film (although I haven’t watched it myself yet) is the opening scene where the lead character Jim (played by Jim Cummings) is performing a eulogy for her mother at a funeral and is having a meltdown during it. The rest of the movie I guess is an expansion on what would follow with Jim and his story. While the movie is a dramedy, it’s much more a drama with some comedy to lighten things up. At its core, the movie is about loss and the long lasting effect it has on people, in this case obviously for Jim. It’s effectively emotional, and from that 10 minute long opening scene all done in one unbroken shot had my attention all the way through to the end. Thunder Road is 90 minutes long and it does what it sets out to do, its straightforward with not too many unnecessary plotlines.
I really don’t know Jim Cummings from anything, but he really demonstrated his talents here. While there are a lot of great things in this movie, his fantastic performance is definitely the highlight. He jumps between comedy and tragic drama so seamlessly. His meltdowns when they happen (and they happen quite a bit) can be sudden and over the top but feel genuine at the same time. In fact the whole performance feels genuine throughout all things considering. I’d say that his performance here might actually be one of the best from 2018, worth way more praise than it’s been getting. The rest of the cast is good as well, whether it’s Kendal Farr as his daughter or Nican Robinson as his cop friend. Really everyone was quite good here but it’s Cummings who stood out the most among the cast.
Jim Cummings on top of writing and lead starring, also directs Thunder Road, and it was pretty well directed for a full feature film debut. It might not be anything special or flashy but it works well for the story and Cummings clearly knows his way behind the camera. Something that does stand out were the use of long unbroken takes, mostly used to showcase acting, usually with long bits of dialogue, especially when its focussed-on Cummings where he just acts for long periods of time (the strongest example is the aforementioned 10 minute unbroken shot for the eulogy scene at the start of the film). It really did add to the scenes quite a bit and elevated them.
Thunder Road is short and simple but great for what it is. It is written, directed and acted well (particularly by Jim Cummings) and was all around a really great emotional dramedy film, worthy of more attention than it has been receiving. One thing is clear, Jim Cummings needs to be given more work, both behind and in front of the camera, he’s clearly very talented and deserves to be paid attention to.