So whilst Mad Max had a Fury Road Officer Jim Arnaud (Jim Cummings) has a Thunder Road and it’s a stormy one with his mother having passed away and his own divorce having left him estranged from his young daughter leaving him in near emotional meltdown.
But this is not the heavyweight drama you might expect with the opening scene where Arnaud is to deliver a eulogy at the funeral to his deceased mother which culminates in him performing a dance routine without music in front of his mother’s coffin. It’s a slightly surreal comedic opening which promises much for the rest of the 93 minute film. Written, performed and directed by Jim Cummings the loss of his own parent compounded by his divorce and estrangement from his young daughter it all understandably has an impact on his work as a cop and when he attends a low level incident with a fellow cop he quickly loses the plot and it’s his sergeant who tells him not to be in work and understandably so as Arnaud is an emotional ticking time bomb.
Thunder Road is a comedy of embarrassment and awkwardness whose most successful exponents have been Ricky Gervais / Stephen Merchant’s The Office & Extras which were excrutiatingly funny but also manage to have moments of tear tugging pathos (Tim & Dawn’s Christmas kiss, Andy Millman’s televised breakdown, nearly all of After Life). Cummings script is not always successful in doing this – the funeral eulogy is a little over long and the emotional roller coaster he rides has him looking like he’s borderline autistic and its difficult to sympathize with someone who, no matter how justified they are in feeling so, is in a near constant rage.
That said there are moments with his daughter as he attempts to rekindle their father -daughter relationship that are touching. Equally there’s a scene when he attends a parent-teacher meeting with his daughter’s teacher played by the always great Macon Blair a favourite actor of director Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room , Blue Ruin) which encapsulates his frustration at how the divorce has affected his daughter’s education. But here Cummings has an end shot which perfectly sums up Arnaud’s emotions and is a brilliantly performed moment that captures the characters happiness, sadness and anger all in one.
It’s a promising feature film debut by Cummings and bodes well for whatever he does next.
Here’s the Thunder Road trailer…….