A film that seems to be forgotten when discussing director Joe Carnahan’s catalog, “Stretch” is something that I find myself defending more often than not.
"Stretch" is about a guy (the titular character) who works in the city of Los Angeles as both a failed actor and as a limousine driver to the stars. While anyone who is an Uber driver can relate to that, "Stretch" takes a turn from the pedestrian to the insane.
A hard-luck limo driver struggling to go straight and pay off a debt to his bookie takes on a job with a crazed passenger whose sought-after ledger implicates some seriously dangerous criminals. - Imdb.com Summary
With cameos by Hollywood stars like Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff, you’re lulled into a false sense of security as to the kind of movie Stretch is supposed to be. Personally, I had seen enough “trying to make it in Hollywood” and “sarcastic main character deals with quirky people” flicks to last a lifetime, but like a sporty automobile, “Stretch” switches gears.
At its core, the "Stretch" is really about earnestness. Whether it is about following your dreams, making sure you try your hardest with a fare to earn a massive tip or being honest in your dating life, being true to yourself is almost always the best course of action.
I raved about "Stretch" so much already, you'll probably wonder why it is in the So Bad, Its Good (#SoBIG). category Well, let’s take a look at some of Joe Carnahan’s other films and how they were marketed:
- NARC: Psychological cop/crime drama (and one of this author's favorite films of all time)
- Smokin' Aces: Teams of assassins descend on a single target with a casino theme? Sign me up!
- The A Team: It's the The Freakin’-A Team!
- The Grey: The guy from "Taken" plus WOLVES!
With “Stretch”, you’ll have a harder time explaining what it is exactly.
- Is it an action movie? Not really but there are awesome action scenes.
- A Mystery? Not officially, but things do raise some questions.
- A Romantic Comedy? Not totally, but it is an important subplot and through-line.
"Stretch" is a mash of everything, but is also none of these things. It’s a fresh idea (which could be seen as a satire of Hollywood in of itself) but it takes so long to get to its point, that it squarely puts it in a “you have to watch the whole thing to get it” territory.
That may work for horror movies and serial dramas on TV shows but that may have been too much to ask of an audience at the time.
But to heck with "audiences," it's great!