Monday, July 22, 2024

Getting There Takes us for a Ride

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I’m mostly content with my life. I’m an educated professional with a beautiful young family and a rewarding passion project in this site. I can knit a killer sock, and my Clean and Jerk one-rep max is steadily improving. But every once in awhile, I find myself in front of my computer screen, questioning all of my life choice.

Case in point, here I am recapping another Mary-Kate and Ashley movie. How did this happen to me!?

On the docket this time: Getting There, or What Even is a Coherent Plot Structure? Will it live up to the high, empowered standards of Holiday in the Sun?

The movie opens with a montage as the twins and two other teenaged girls drive down a country road in a convertible, raising their arms in the air going “Woo!”.  Mary-Kate begins her voice-over, informing us that the twins are sixteen and going on their first road trip.

“All good? No. All great.”

Why does MK get a voice over and not Ashley? And also, why is MK’s name always first?

Then we go into a flashback sequence of all the drama that attended their passing their driver’s exam six months before. The twins, you see, have contrasting personalities. Ashley has flashcards and always follows the rules. MK is a free spirit named Kylie (nicknamed “Ky-Ky” and we should all remember that) who is gonna do it live!

Their friends are all anxiously waiting in the DMV to see the results. Which is normal, I guess. There’s Jen, the hot friend, and Impossibly Dumb Friend (IDF), who is so dumb she could probably drown by looking up in a rain storm. Then there are the boys. First there’s Holiday in the Sun alum, Dumb Jock, who’s playing the snarky dude here. (I’m still going to call him “DJ”, though.) There’s also Floppy Haired Guy, (FHG) who has Dogged Nice Guy™  written all over him.

Rounding out the group is Toast. At least 80% of the humour in this movie is based on the fact that Toast enjoys eating food. It’s very Ember Island Players Sokka.

A short little scene establishes 1) IDF is into DJ, but he just treats her like shit, 2) Toast likes Jen, but she’s not interested, 3) FHG likes MK.

The twins take their road test and they pass. Wow, I just saved you 5 minutes of ethnic stereotypes and Twins-With-Opposite-Personalities. Apparently California is a magical place where they let you smile in the driver’s license photo. And give you unlimited redos.

The twins then have a low-key pool party, hosted by their very annoying and unrealistically penned parents, “Mr. and Mrs. Hunter”. (Groan.) Parents who get the twins their very own red mustang convertible for their sixteenth birthday.

Okay, is buying 16-year-olds their own cars actually a thing? I grew up upper-middle class and I think that’s crazy.

But it’s not all bad. There are also nun-based puns.

So six months later, the twins and all their peeps are taking a road trip to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Yeah, by themselves. In their own car. (Well. We’re told there are chaperones, but that still confuses me. More later.)

Ashley walks to the car, expositing all the while about the Hot Skier she has a crush on that she wants to see do the Giant Slalom. The dudes drive up in their car. Toast has doughnuts. The movie takes several minutes to discuss this. And to establish the fact that the kids will not be drag racing at any point.

Yeah, clearly they live on the edge.

And then we’re back to where we started the movie! Wow that flashback sure made this second Woo! montage so much more meaningful.

We transition right into a Woo! Montage for the boys. If anything, they Woo! with even greater enthusiasm as they discuss Toast and his urgent need for breakfast burritos. Mildly racist breakfast burritos, to be honest.

As the dudes drive away from the fast food restaurant, burritos in hand, there’s a crisis when they discover that they have no hot sauce. It’s serious. The boys are like orangutans at the zoo about to riot. In their urgent attempt to remedy this problem, they back up right over those tire popping spike thingies! Sad trombone!

The girls pull up to make fun of them. Well, Ashley is more disappointed than amused. They decide that, since their car is unusable (can’t they just change the tires?) the boys will fly to Salt Lake, and the girls will continue on their Bildungsroman roadtrip. The boys are emotionally devastated to be separated from them, especially FHG, who watches MK leave with puppy-dog eyes.

Ashley keeps the girl-car on a very tight schedule. So tight that it doesn’t allow for any food breaks. But MK, who’s totally free-spirited like that, talks the group into stopping for sandwiches.

But, oh no! Their car got stolen! This all MK’s fault for needing food!

But it’s okay. They’ll just fly to Salt Lake City the next day with the boys. And this is the first time the whole issue with their bottomless supply of money becomes super obvious. But not the last.

Having not even made it out of LA on the first day, the kids all regroup at the twins’ house to play Twister and have some steak. Romance is in the air, as Impossibly Dumb Friend throws herself at DJ some more. Inside the house, MK and Floppy Haired Guy decide that his crush on her merits a sitting-on-the-stairs conversation. It’s clear that Mary-Kate isn’t into him, but she is unwilling to say so explicitly. So they end up with a discussion about how grey isn’t a real colour, which that leaves him with the impression that he can foist a kiss on her.

Elsewhere, comedy ensues when Toast spills lemonade on the steak.

The two gender groups both hatch a plan to take the early direct flight, which only has four seats left, leaving the other gender-group to have to take the commuter flight at noon and “go up and down all day.” Diabolical. And cunning.

The next morning, they all run into each other at the airport. Awkward trombone!

The kids bicker for a bit, then decide to run to the ticket desk. They have a race through the airport where only the dudes get to do stunts, but then the flight is sold out anyway.

How thrilling.

There are no other direct flights from LAX to Salt Lake that day (I checked, and there are, like, four an hour…), and this conflict has put a serious strain on the cross-gender friendships, so they decide to part ways. Though MK assures her gentleman caller that they’ll meet up in Salt Lake City.

Then she declares to Ashley that since this is all her fault, (because she wanted to eat that one time, I guess,) she will make it right by going to buy the tickets herself. So they get on a plane that’s supposed to be LA to San Francisco, to Sacramento, to Salt Lake City.

But, oh no, they land and they’re in San Diego.

I have so many questions….

MK would have asked for a flight to Salt Lake, not to their first stop, right? And the airline would construct an itinerary with a layover for them. Or are they doing this in some kind of bizarre piece-meal fashion particular to rich kids? How did Ashley, or their two pals, not notice this until they got off the plane and saw a sign that said “Welcome to San Diego”? Did not one of the four of them look at the boarding pass at any point, or hear the numerous announcements that always come with commercial airline flight, or notice that the ocean was on the wrong side, or realize that the flight took less time than it should have? Did they all swallow a handful of tranquilizers?

Ashley is pissed at MK, because clearly this is all her fault.

To make matters worse, there is “weather” happening, so there are no flights back to LAX all day. From San Diego. And no flights to Salt Lake City either. Since it’s so isolated and inaccessible.

Meanwhile, the same “weather” has stranded the boys in Santa Barbara, and they’re walking around it in wonder like it’s some exotic land. Toast is hungry so they stop to get some food, hold the hot sauce.

A Random Mexican in a cowboy hat overhears them discussing their plight and offers them a free ride back to LA. That’s nice of him. Oh, but they have to make a stop on the way to engage in some migrant agricultural labour. As one does.

They really bond with Juan here.

The girls, on the other hand, decide that their best option is to take a cab. From San Diego to LA. God it must be nice to have a bottomless pit of money. It’s not like there are countless buses between these two cities that they could have hopped on for under $20, or if they really wanted to splurge, a train for around $40. But weather, I suppose.

Back at the twins’ house, again, the kids decide on Plan C. They’re going to take a bus to Las Vegas and then fly to Salt Lake from there. Because there are no direct flights the next day either. To Salt Lake City or to Las Vegas (was 2002 the dark ages?).

On the Greyhound the next morning, Impossibly Dumb Friend throws herself at DJ some more, and MK tells FHG to give her some fucking space.

They stop at a bus station and Ashley decides to channel her reckless sister by, gasp, getting something to eat! (Hold the hot sauce!) IDF and DJ get off with her, they are now “Team Rainbow”, for reasons that will become obvious soon enough.

This will shock everyone, but the bus leaves without them. I know, what a twist. They’re as oblivious to this as they were to being on a plane to the wrong San earlier, and end up in a small town in the middle of the desert. With no cell reception!

Meanwhile, Team Vegas, who were all asleep and didn’t notice the departure of Team Rainbow, arrive in Vegas just in time for a Tourist Board Montage. MK panics that her sister is gone, but after another montage of sad, they’re able to reach each other on their phones.

“Oh, so I almost called Mom and Dad.”

The twins agree that Team Vegas will wait there for Team Rainbow to get the next bus in six hours.

And then, omg guys, this is it. Ashley walks into a diner, and suddenly we’re in an independent film about lesbians coming of age.

There’s a young woman in the diner, sitting in a red bandana, playing the piano. “You must be a mirage,” she tells Ashley. Her name is Charlie. Ashley feels an instant connection with this mysterious stranger. She immediately unloads all of the past few days of hardship on her. It’s been dreadful!

Charlie is full of sympathy. She offers to drop everything she’s doing and drive Ashley and her peeps to Vegas in her dad’s old truck. It’s called Ol’ Rusty. I cannot make this shit up.

Also, please give me this Rich Kid superpower of getting free long distance drives from random people met in dining establishments.

Ashley takes Charlie outside and tells her friends the good news, but DJ just makes fun of Charlie’s old truck and doesn’t even thank her, because DJ is an entitled little shit.

As they’re driving along, Charlie flirts with Ashley by telling her fun facts about oranges. They’re driving through orange groves, you see. Charlie reveals that she and her dad both work in the orange groves. Charlie has been picking fruit on the weekends for years.

Poor Ashley has some Privilege Panic, suspecting for the first time that she’s speaking to someone who might be, gasp, poor! Charlie further states that she’s home-schooled and that she doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t know much about life in the Big City. Ashley offers to send her care packages, with clothes and stuff. How sweet.

Also. There is totally eye fucking.

Team Vegas is wandering around. Toast wants to hit the buffets. Suddenly the kids are accosted by an ethnic stereotype named Raj. He offers them a gig being witnesses at a Wedding Chapel. Sounds legit. He will pay them with a buffet.

To be fair, the Elvis themed wedding is easily the funniest part of the movie. And the conversation consisting entirely of the names of Elvis songs is easily the cleverest. But after a while, poor Team Vegas has wedding fatigue.

Out in the desert, Ol’ Rusty has broken down and Team Rainbow is forced to camp out in orange groves. Charlie finds out they’re trying to get to Salt Lake City and is all “well, why didn’t you says so. My dad can fly us there on his plane!”

Because twist of twist! Charlie isn’t poor and in need of care packages at all. In fact, she’s super not!poor, her dad is the Orange King of California! See, they OWN all the fruit they pick. How crazy! They go to her palatial house, where Orange King assures them that his pilot will fly them to Salt Lake, with a stop over in Vegas to pick up that Team, right after his chef makes them a fancy dinner.

In Vegas, Toast, Jen, MK, and Floppy Hair Guy are finally hitting the buffet. Toast is a gross eater. Wow. MK gets a call from her sis to tell her to meet them at the airport, it’s private jet time!

Charlie is coming with them for Olympics fun. Ashley introduces her to her friends as “our snow angel.”

But, oh no, “weather” is happening again. It sounds serious, but then in the next scene they’re at the ski lodge sunbathing. That’s… odd writing.

The kids are sick of sunbathing after a while and decide to go into town. A town that is remarkably uncrowded for the last day of the Olympics. They wanted to go to the Giant Slalom to see that Hot Skier Ashley has a crush on, but it’s sold out. How sad. They go into another eating establishment to watch him on TV instead.

He crashes and doesn’t get his medal, but I think there’s a lesson in that. Or something. Plus  another mention is made of their chaperones? I’m still confused.

The group starts discussing the downhill snow sports they hope to participate in, and divide into snowboarders and skiers along gender lines. (Why?) Well, IDF wants to go with DJ, but he’s horrible at her until she dejectedly mumbles that she’s going to do her own thing.

The Bros bro out on a snowboarding montage. They’re “cruizarooing”! Meanwhile, the girls are getting dressed in their super cute skiing outfits.

(Charlie thinks Ashley “looks amazing.”)

Come on, Charlie, poker face!

The skiing montage we are treated to isn’t nearly as exciting as the snowboarding one. The boys get to do tricks on the half-pipe and the girls are doing pizza turns on a bunny slope. What gives?

Back in the ski lodge, the peeps spend, like, five minutes having a cannonball competition in the pool. IDF suddenly shows up with her leg in a cast. She tried to snowboard, so she could bond with DJ, but she had not clue how. Hence the broken leg. DJ, filled with guilt, I guess, decides that he’s in love with her after all and turns into a totally different character. Happy ending for those two.

As they all leave the pool, Jen stops Toast and tells him that she’s impressed with his cannonballs. The music informs us that this scene is serious, and indeed, it’s surprisingly well done. Toast tells Jen that his name is Joshua. DJ started calling him Toast because toast always gets burned. (My heart!)

Jen tells Joshua that DJ is kinda a horrible friend. Joshua then asks her, very respectful, if there is any chance she would consider a relationship with him. She tells him that really, all he has to do is stop acting like a four-year-old and she would totally be game.

That was nice.

The kids gather for some Hot Apple Cider and it turns out that these “chaperones” that have been mentioned periodically are these two adults that have been discreetly following them this whole time.

Their names are Mike and Allison.

What. Where were they when they got on the plane to the wrong San? Or when the boys spent the day as migrant labourers? Or when they repeatedly took rides from strangers? I’m so confused!

The next day, Ashley is in line for the ski lift and randomly ends up sharing it with Hot Skier-who-she-has-a-crush on. Well, they don’t say it’s Hot Skier, but only Impossibly Dumb Friend would be dumb enough to not clue into it. I’m mostly concerned because they don’t put the bar down on the lift and they’re just hanging there dozens of feet in the air without any sort of safety barrier, but whatever, it’s a flirt montage.

OMG, you’re going to fall!

After they part ways, Ashley joins the other girls for cheeseburgers and “boy-watching”. (This is so heterosexual, you guys!) Then the whole gang goes tubing, and there’s a race that takes five minutes.

What even is a plot? You don’t need one to make a movie.

Then they gather to make marshmallows and wrap up all the romance subplots. DJ is still being actually decent to IDF, making her over the moon with joy, and Jen and Joshua start making out after discussing the etymology of the word “s’more”, while Ashley and Charlie probably do the same thing off-screen.

Meanwhile, MK and Floppy Hair Guy…hold onto your hats. FHG tries to kiss MK again and she asserts her sexual agency.

Like, actually.

She points out that he’s never really asked her how she actually felt and tells him that she’s just not into him. Then she leaves and that is that.

I don’t know how to react. That was really good. MK’s discomfort with his behaviour was obvious for the whole movie and she isn’t at any point portrayed as cold or mean for rejecting him.

“What about what’s in my head and my heart?”

The only criticism I have is that this character doesn’t really have an arc of any kind. Nothing happened to make her realize that she didn’t have to just let this go on because she wanted to be nice. She just suddenly decides it’s time for feminism. And while it’s true that anytime is time for feminism, it’s not really a story, you know.

Whatever, time for a snowmobiling mortgage! Utah is lovely, I guess. The twins tell us the lesson, apropos of nothing: Sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination. Such wise.

Then, one month later, (best plotting ever!) the gang is back in LA and their mustang has returned! How… probable. Joshua and Jen are still into making out, Charlie is coming to LA for school and to be with her new girlfriend, and Ashley is chuffed that she got to ski with Hot Skier.

One recap montage later, and the movie is over.

Getting There is about a journey, and boy howdy, is it a journey in itself. Barely an hour and twenty minutes long, but feels as long as a Greyhound ride to Utah. It has randomly sexist stunt work gender segregation, but also actual explication of positive consent. It has an acknowledgement of the struggle of migrant agricultural labour and also a bunch of nitwits whose parents are willing to fund $400 cab rides from San Diego without comment. And there’s a canonical wlw relationship.

There’s an improvised nature to the script that is classic Olsen Twins laziness, but even that aspect is an improvement from Holiday in the Sun. Are the Olsen Twins learning?

I can’t wait to explore this further, wherever my MK&A journey takes me next.

Images courtesy of DualStar Films

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