Joy Ride never settles down, much like the comedic stylings of its director, stand-up-turn-filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait.
The movie constantly shifts from concert footage taken from a tour featuring Goldthwait and fellow comic Dana Gould, to segments where the comedians casually interview each other between gigs. So, it’s a “concert doc” then, right? That’s where Joy Ride has the possibility of frustrating the viewer. It’s equal parts concert film and personal documentary, but it doesn’t meet together. Instead, Joy Ride feels like two different versions of the same movie running parallel to each other. Both are really good and really unique versions, but they resist against each other like Goldthwait and Gould before they broke bread.
Now, that said, this approach seems intentional. It’s a structure that exists outside of tradition. It seems even more deliberate considering that’s also a fitting description for the comedy careers of Bobcat Goldthwait and Dana Gould. On that exception, as unkept and unpolished as it is, Joy Ride finds mutual levels to work on and generates some of the biggest laughs of the year. Some of these stories will have you doubled over, such as how Goldthwait remembers his unfortunate run-ins with a car dealer and memories of Robin Williams, and how Gould recalls a trip to visit his ailing mother with Bobcat awkwardly straggling along.
The stand-up is observant and racy, which goes hand-in-hand with how open and honest Goldthwait and Gould are with each other and towards their live audiences. Goldthwait, especially, is taking this opportunity to self-reflect on his developing empathy and further configure his second career as a filmmaker and storyteller. Joy Ride seems like a lark on its surface, but an important project for its director.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie