Simply put, High Road is hilarious.
The audience adored the film at its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Friday, and showed their appreciation with frequent swells of laughter.
There’s been plenty of speculation and Internet buzz about the Matt Walsh-helmed “improvised indie road rom com”; Is this an Upright Citizens Brigade flick? Is it just another stoner movie? What are all these well-known funny people (Abby Elliott, Rob Riggle, Ed Helms, Lizzy Caplan, Zach Woods, Horatio Sanz, Andy Daly, Kyle Gass, and more) all doing in one movie?
We have some answers.
Most of the humor brand in High Road is broad enough that Hangover fans will be satiated; simultaneously an undeniable indie sensibility flavors the entire piece so that UCB fans and alt comedy purists have plenty of reasons to smile.
Here’s the deal: Glenn “Fitz” Fitzgerald (James Pumphrey) runs off from his pregnant girlfriend Monica (Abby Elliott) due to a pot deal gone wrong; he’s chased by the sleuthing duo of Officer (Ret.) Fogerty (Joe Lo Truglio) and James Malone (Rob Riggle) because Fitz lets Jimmy, James’ son that’s running away from home, hitch a ride with him out of town.
Though the dialogue is 100 percent improvised, writer/director Walsh and his writing partner Josh Weiner heavily outlined and locked the story in with a detailed description of what was to play out in each scene. With a solid story in place, Walsh deftly guided the improvising cast, making sure to steer them back to the plot when needed. In the end, the UCB co-founder created an incredibly detailed, realistic world. The result is a movie not only heavy on laughs but also quite heavy with heart.
Shot appropriately like a documentary with hand-held long takes, the emphasis of the movie is put on its cast, who deliver effortlessly. Pumphrey proves himself as a competent leading man while Lo Truglio is hilarious as Officer Fogerty, who’s desperately trying to be a detective despite the fact he’s just a former sheriff who now runs a gym (his outfit throughout the whole movie, sweatshirt and sweatpants, is our constant reminder of that fact).
Beyond the improv, the very concepts Walsh plays with are fun. Some standouts include a scene wherein Matt Jones and Lizzy Caplan play members of a White Stripes cover band called Eight Nation Army; Fitz (a 24/7 post smoker) positing his theory that everything in the world can be narrowed down to a triangle and Ed Helms’ feeble attempts at picking up Monica.
With all of this under his direction, Walsh makes an impressive directorial debut, rolling all of the talent into a tight 90 minutes. High Road is still on the festival circuit without any distribution, but hopefully soon, it will find it’s way into theaters.