- John Cho, Mia Isaac, Kaya Scodelario
- Written by
- Vera Herbert
- Directed by
- Hannah Marks
- Run Time
- 1h 49min
- Release Date
- July 15th, 2022
From its opening voiceover, Don’t Make Me Go sets you up for something you might not like. With a backdrop of a wrong turn to a nice beach, a voice tells us “ You’re not gonna like the way this story ends, but I think you’re going to like the story.” Curiosity is arisen but even with the warning, the endgame still is worse than what you imagine.
Max ( John Cho) is a single parent of 15 year old Wally ( Mia Isaac) after her mother abandoned them when she was a baby. Max has been a great father, but has lived the life of a stereotypical insurance salesman, someone who takes no risks. Max has been having recuring headaches and goes to get it checked out only to have the test come back as a bone tumor with a not so good prognosis. Max is given two choices, he can have surgery to remove it at a 30% or so survival rate, or he can just live out the rest of his life, which would be about a year. Having no family to leave Wally with, he decides to seek out her mom Nicole ( Jen Van Epps) with the goal of putting a plan in place for after he’s gone. Max has decided to spend the time he has left with Wally and his college reunion sets up the perfect scenario for a road trip. The sudden desire to reconnect with the past is not the big reason Max is attending, that is to find Nicole, who would be there with the man she left Max for. So on the road they go, where along the way Max tries to help prepare Wally for life without him. When he is not teaching her to drive or dance, he is telling her the signs that will tell her she has found a good man, hint: it involves dancing. One piece of info Max has not told Wally is that he dying, something she will find out in the worst way.
Don’t Make Me Go is a family drama that is also a coming of age story with some disease tragedy, while also still being a road trip movie. Written by Vera Herbert, the film does get away with its generally familiar beats, because Cho and Isaac both deliver, even if the script doesn’t always. Before the film takes its hard unexpected or maybe expected turn, we check all the boxes on what to expect with a movie like this as it adheres to conventional dramas. Not much sticks out, that is until you are left with your mouth agape slightly at what happens.
Don’t Make Me Go colors within the lines for a movie like this, but never gives its characters a strong story that pushes for much depth. Cho and Issac are good, but you wish you felt something more for them, as what happens defines them instead of who they are. Of course there are some moving parts, but for some the ending is what will define this movie and everything else will just be filler. Technically the film looks fantastic, with some great cinematography by Jaron Presant. I think more careful plotting would have helped achieve what the filmmakers were aiming for and while Don’t Make Me Go fails to reach it potential, there is enough in there to deliver something worth watching.