Last year my father had a battle with the C-word, which he would eventually win against. Anyone who has had a family battle that or any other deadly disease knows what the kind of strain it can put on both the person who is suffering and those around him or her. What if knowing what pain they and their loved ones will be going through, they decide to end it all with some assistance. There are currently five states that have legal physician-assisted death, and this is a story about going to one.
Raymond Engersol (Frank Langella) has heart issues, and knowing the end is near he has decided to end things on his own terms. Raymond lives with his daughter Kate (Christina Applegate) and her family, as well as his wife Estelle (Mary Kay Place). The house is far from harmonious, with a teenager and Kate’s husband Brian (Billy Crudup), who seems to work from home. Raymond informs the family of his decision and that he has hired a driver to take him across country to carry it out. Needless to say his family does not take it well, and Kate insists that she is going to drive Raymond to Oregon. Things happen as they usually do with a teenage daughter and Brian gets to be the driver, with Estelle tagging along. Along the way Brian is given the chance to know Raymond unlike he ever has, and with it an understanding to the reason why he wants to travel the road he has chosen.
As you can see with the above paragraph, this is not going to be sunny skies. Besides traveling to Oregon, where it is always cloudy, the subject matter is not the rosiest. It also doesn’t help with the pace of this film written by Andrew Eisen and directed by Joel David Moore. Billed as a comedy/drama the film leans heavy on the later and while it might be going for laughs, there is a cloud that hangs over everything because of the themes explored. It just felt too dark for me, and that might have to do with what I went through with my own father that struck a cord with me. What if he wasn’t going to win and he made this kind of choice?
The cast is good, with Langella leading the way and being a beacon. There is all kinds of ways I could try and say what else I think about this film. For me the simplest I can come up with, is while it is not good, it is far from bad, I mean it really is just an ok of a movie. I know that might not be the most “critical” of reviews, but it is the best way I can describe what I thought. “Youth in Oregon” will end up as one of those movies that gets lost in a sea of movies. There is an audience for this movie, but for this critic, I did not need the journey.