Me & Will

Director: Melissa Behr and Sherrie Rose
Melissa Behr, Sherrie Rose, Patrick Dempsey

As I have mentioned in earlier reviews, I have a great imagination. I like to let my mind wander enough that I can place myself in numerous "what if" situations. Sometimes I imagine myself in a wild situation, like for example placing my present self in an ancient civilization like the Roman empire or the Ming dynasty - what would I do if that were to happen? But I tend to imagine myself in a situation that is far more plausible than time travel. And when I imagine such a situation for quite some time, reality starts to kick in and I see that some situations should remain firmly in my imagination and not become a reality. Let me give you some examples. One dream I have had for a long time that I have mentioned at least once before is that I would like to travel to Las Vegas for a few days, to see the glitz and glamor, see a live show, and attend all the amusement park-like attractions there. But there would be so many hassles to have to go through to prepare for the trip, and I would be in a country with so many guns and so many nuts who own guns, that, well, my dream becomes more undesirable the more I think about it. Another dream that I sometimes have is to win millions in the lottery. Certainly, having lots of money gives you a lot of power and opportunity to do many things you couldn't do before. And lottery earnings in my country are given to the winners tax free, unlike in the United States. So winning a great deal of money would be a good thing - or would it be? I've heard plenty of tales of lottery winners who have subsequently been swamped by requests for money by charities and poor people. And I've heard that a high percentage of lottery winners within a few years find that all of their winnings are gone for reasons ranging from foolish spending to bad investments.

There's another dream that I sometimes have that I know that a lot of other people have as well. And that is to abandon their lives of drudgery and responsibility, and promptly hit the open road for an extended amount of time - maybe for the rest of their lives. This dream has been around for a long time, and it's only increased when Hollywood has seized the idea and shown it to be a lot of fun, from television shows like Route 66 and Then Came Bronson, to movies like Easy Rider. Who couldn't see the appeal of shucking your chains off and going on the road to nowhere in particular? You can get up whenever you want, drive to any place you want to go to, and don't have many responsibilities - if any at all. So you can probably understand why I sometimes have the dream of jumping on a motorcycle and leaving everything behind. But almost immediately, I start to see the problems with that dream. In my case, there would be quite a few. First, I would have to buy a motorcycle, and learn how to ride it. Then I would have to sell off all of my possessions or arrange to get them in storage, and quit my job. But even if I were able to do all of that and managed to start to go down that "endless" road, there are more potential problems. I currently don't have that much saved up, so what would I do when I run out of money for gas, food, and other regular expenses? Also, riding on a motorcycle would mean that I would be exposed to the elements, so what would I do if it were to rain or snow? Also, while Easy Rider did show the appeal of hitting the open road, it also showed dangers like rednecks with guns who don't exactly have sympathy for motorcycle vagabonds.

Worst of all, being on the open road I would be cut off from indulging in my love of movies - I couldn't watch them, since I couldn't exactly bring with me my widescreen television, my Blu-Ray player, and my Amazon Fire Stick. Even worse, I would have to abandon this movie review website, and there's no Me & Willway I want to disappoint all of my loyal readers. So my dream of climbing on a motorbike and leaving all my responsibilities behind will remain just that, a dream. But thanks to my aforementioned love of movies, I can watch movies where people manage to leave everything behind and hit the open road on their motorbikes. And as I watch those movies, I can for a short time imagine I am riding with these rebels and freedom-seekers. Naturally, that's primarily why I was attracted to the movie Me & Will, but another thing intrigued me about it. While men usually play these motorized drifters, this time around the central characters were women. Not only that, the movie was written, produced, and directed by women, the same women playing the central characters. The "me" in the title of the movie is a woman by the name of Jane (Sherrie Rose, King Of The Kickboxers), and the woman with the atypical name of Will is played by Melissa Behr (Dollman vs. Demonic Toys). Both women live in Los Angeles and frequently partake of the many clubs in the city - as well as the narcotics found in these clubs. The two women's drug use eventually catches up with them, with it getting Will into a motorcycle accident and Jane suffering a near fatal overdose. The two women end up in a drug rehabilitation center, and there they start to get to know each other, soon becoming fast friends. They find they have a lot in common, including their love of motorcycle riding. Eventually, they decide to break out of rehab together, get on their motorcycle, and make a cross country trip to find the motorcycle Peter Fonda rode in the movie Easy Rider. More than one obstacle rears its head as Jane and Will make their journey, but the two are determined to support each other through thick and thin.

It's pretty easy even before watching Me & Will to figure out the main inspiration for writers slash directors slash producers slash stars Rose and Behr, that being of course the movie Easy Rider. But as I illustrated in the paragraphs above, it's a premise that's still universally appealing almost fifty years later. And the movie does put in a fresh twist by making the protagonists women, which is a good place to start my critique of the movie. While the credits of the movie suggest that Rose and Behr were really passionate about making this movie, for a lot of the running time you don't get that sense when you see the two women's performances. In the opening scenes, where the character of Jane is with her druggie boyfriend (Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy), and Will meets up with a male friend, the actresses' performance are really low key, almost to the point that they seem quite disinterested. Later scenes where each of them is paired with another member of the admittedly eclectic cast (which includes M. Emmet Walsh, Traci Lords, and Steve Railsback), this same unenthusiastic vibe comes across. However, when Rose and Behr are paired up together, there is a marked improvement. Although their performances in these particular scenes are not fantastic, you do sense some genuine chemistry. It's a low key kind of chemistry, but it's the kind that you can relate to if you've ever had a friend that you have spent a lot of casual time together and don't feel you have to deliver a lot of energy to maintain the friendship. You can tell that the two women must be good friends in real life, and seeing two people getting along very well together adds some genuine pleasure to what we see.

While these scenes with Rose and Behr paired up and doing things together are the strongest in Me & Will, that doesn't mean that these scenes are not without problems. This is a good place as any to talk about another of their contributions to the movie, the script. In their scenes together, there are a significant number of details that seem unfinished. For example, twice in the movie it's made clear that the character of Jane is suffering from some sort of health problems, problems that Will sees for herself both times. Do the women really talk about it? No, they don't - in fact, the issue is dropped after the second time it comes up and is never brought up again. There are also a number of head-scratching moments when the women are not paired together, like one scene where Will visits her mother, and it quickly becomes clear that the two are seriously estranged. Why? It's never made clear. And it's made clear that Jane was molested as a child by her father (Seymour Cassel, Death Game), but this troubling experience that Jane had is eventually dropped and forgotten about. These and other puzzling moments make the screenplay come across as if it were a first draft and not a finished work that had been properly polished with enough rewrites. But I will admit that there are a few fairly well written vignettes here and there, the most memorable when the two women come across a woman battered by her husband and decide to try and save her, only to find that when they find out who her husband is that they cannot do a thing. Another movie would have had them kick the butt of the abusive husband, but the way this scene actually goes feels more realistic - and memorable.

That scene happens to be pretty well directed as well, and on that note it seems natural to start discussing Rose and Behr's direction of Me & Will. With the movie being the first (and so far only) time behind the camera for both women, and that the movie's budget was obviously very small, it was probably inevitable that there are some clunky touches. The movie comes across as really cheap, from nightclub sequences that look like they were filmed in someone's basement to some poorly recorded dialogue. And when it comes to showing the women on the road, somehow you don't get the great feeling of freedom and exhilaration movies like Easy Rider managed to generate, despite some fairly good songs on the soundtrack. Rose and Behr do try to put some visual flair by using techniques like split screens and fancy edit wipes (though this is eventually abandoned.) And the movie's frequent low key feel and attitude is refreshing in an age of movies that are often more heavy-handed and unsubtle in tone. Unfortunately, the jokey scene that plays after the end credits have rolled by severely damages the somewhat amiable feel the movie generated up to that point. But even if that wrongheaded scene not been there, Me & Will would still have been a misfire. It's a movie that you really want to like - as I indicated earlier in this review, who doesn't like the idea of putting aside your responsibilities in order to hit the road and experience great adventures along the way? But the movie's often aimless and sloppy nature will make you in the end wish that Rose and Behr been a little more responsible making this labor of love.

(Posted August 7, 2021)

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See also: Biker Dreams, On Any Sunday, The Stranger