|'the opening sees us join Stretch (Patrick Wilson) mid-collision as, in a whirlwind few minutes, he flies through a car windscreen, falls in love, breaks up and breaks down'|
Featuring a host of recognisable names in unrecognisable roles, makeup and... headdresses, Stretch is the film Hollywood would probably make more often if it hired directors with B-movie sensibilities and gave them budgets. Would that be a good thing? Perhaps not entirely. But seeing Chris Pine in near psychopathic form as a personification of ridiculous gain and wealth does have its attractions.
As well as Pine, who - in the film's gaudiest costumes - is probably the headline, Stretch features Ed Helms as a Walt Disney-lookalike limo driver who happens to be dead, James Badge Dale as an obtuse Gallic gangster, Ray Liotta as a sweary demanding version of himself and David Hasselhoff as... a sweary demanding version of himself.
In the middle of the mess of thinly veiled stabs at LA and Hollywood culture is Stretch (Patrick Wilson), another limo driver with a debt to pay, Pine's madman as a client and various and sundry other distractions (Jessica Alba mans the limo company's phones whilst a secretive beauty sends Stretch messages to organise a blind date).
Like anything this garish, with this much thrown in - for a mixture of titillation, entertainment, distraction and just because it happened to be there - some elements are more successful than others. Dale's involvement with the plot is probably necessary for things to make perfect sense but Christ, in something like this who really cares? Ultimately his character is the most cut out of anyone. The film is much better during the opening, which sees us join Stretch mid-collision as, in a whirlwind few minutes, he flies through a car windscreen, falls in love, breaks up and breaks down.
Director Joe Carnahan's no nonsense sensibility (and visual quality) shines through, but his lack of finesse also shows on occasion, particularly the moments that come across as a little laddish. The action and humour though do really hit the mark on occasion and the pace can't be faulted. Think of it as a close cousin to 1997's Drive (remember that one?), although Stretch does also have a relationship with films both further down the bargain bin and further up the shelf.