CAPSULE: Two young men keep a video journal of their motorcycle trip on the road from Las Vegas to the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. Along the way we get a close-up view of the sights and people of Central and South America. Though their goal is ambitious, their trip seems to have only minor problems and inconveniences, and the documentary they made from it is pleasant, but falls short of exciting. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
The appeal of the open road is every bit as strong as it was in the days of EASY RIDER. These days bikers who want to can see more variety than Route 66.
The two young filmmakers apparently in their early twenties make an audacious and naive plan to take Suzuki motorcycles from Las Vegas down to Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, filming with hand-held camera as they go. Tiernan Turner and Matt Kendall, filmmakers generally found in the sound department, decide they will film their trip and make a documentary. These are not really serious documentarians. As one describes his reason for going, "there are dark-skinned women with green eyes and big busts." This is perhaps not the highest of journalistic motives for such a trip.
From the beginning the plan sounds daring. The trip will cover some 10,000 miles. Neither man has much motorcycle experience and each has even less mechanical repair knowledge. Tiernan's cycle needs repair from the first time he tries to ride it. And the places where they are going have the reputation of being crime-ridden and with little modern convenience. Nor do the two seem to understand the basics of the governments and politics. They believe they are ready so set out without even considering they need visas. Perhaps their plans are overly optimistic.
One thing in their favor is the use of new(ish) electronic technology. Most places go they have Internet access. When they get lost they have GPS. When they need a place to stay they use couchsurfing.com.
In the end what the film shows is that even though travelers are incompetent, with sufficient electronics, an occasional airplane, and a lot of help from new friends, even a trip like this, some 10,000 miles, is possible.
Though some people are not well-met, e.g. corrupt officials and passport thieves, most people Tiernan and Matt met were friendly and anxious to offer help. They implicitly trusted the traveling duo. (Perhaps because they reasoned why would rich Americans steal from the poor.) At times they were incredibly lucky. In one adventure a lost wallet was retrieved (it is implied intact) after many hours.
The two clearly could not have completed their trip with a generous portion of the kindness of strangers. And perhaps equally valuable if not more so was the presence of the Internet. The film is very affirming but should come with a label that says the viewer should not try repeating the experience. I rate RIDE REPORT a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. The film was released on DVD on June 10 and one month later will be streaming on Hulu, Amazon, Cinema Libre on Demand.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2070793/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ride_report/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper