- Hamish Hart
The Comeback Trail (2020) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
MOVIES can be expensive and difficult to make, and George Gallo’s latest comedy, The Comeback Trail, focuses on the triumphs and tragedies hidden underneath the blankets of Hollywood producers.
Failing film producers Max Barber (De Niro), and his nephew Walter Creason (Braff), are searching for their next big hit.
But when Barber loans funds from dangerous mobster, Reggie Fontaine (Freeman), he devises a plan to claim insurance from and stage the death of Duke Montana (Jones), the star of his next apparent hit in order to pay off his debt.
The Comeback Trail may lack deep and engaging drama, but the film makes up for it by encapsulating the atmosphere of 1970s film producing.
Set design is often shoved aside by casual movie-goers due to its transparency when compared to other key factors such as acting and cinematography. Comeback Trail embraces its nearly 50-year-old landscape by having majority of its runtime take place within a movie shoot for a western all too similar to that of Clint Eastwood’s resume.
De Niro and Braff play off one another exceptionally well during the film’s opening which features them arguing about what their next feature should be.
I was delighted to see Braff feature heavily during the beginning, but unfortunately, he is soon overshadowed by the film’s primary story arc of the comeback of Montana’s washed-up career and life.
While Jones does a passable job with the script given, Montana’s story feels incomplete as major elements of his character are forgotten about such as the rushed relationship between an ex-lover who we never see or care about by The Comeback Trail’s conclusion.
Her screen presence may seem minimal, but Kate Katzman’s character of Megan Albert, the director on set during the film, did a terrific job and was the standout for me.
Katzman’s credentials may only feature a handful of low-budget productions but heed my words – this is her coming-out flick and I hope she lands more roles moving forward.
Is The Comeback Trail an Oscar-worthy movie that the characters are trying to go for? Absolutely not, but what the film lacks in quality it makes up for in enjoyability.
Character motivations may change on the fly and some of the dark humour may not land immediately, but you can tell that all involved had a blast creating this love-letter to the bygone era of western cinema.
The Comeback Trail may feel like a discount Quentin Tarantino film, but that still does not mean its bad. It may not be perfect, but at the end of the day, did it need to be?