The best road trip films have a clear, concise point and purpose, or clever, hilarious hijinks that are so outrageous you can’t look away. Pooling to Paradise has neither of these things, but it does do well by its eclectic cast of characters. They each have definition, notable backstories, and something they hope to accomplish throughout the course of the film. However, I did not find any of them all that exciting. This is a low-stakes breezy road trip that you will forget almost as soon as it ends.
Mommy blogger Jenny (Lynn Chen) is running very late for her flight to Vegas, but her rideshare driver does not seem to be in any hurry. Jenny realizes in horror that she booked a pool, meaning Marc (Jordan Carlos) actually still needs to pick up two more riders before they continue their journey. The first is a ditzy blonde named Kara (Dreama Walker) “with a K!” who only has $300 to her name; the second is dazed drunkard Sean (Jonathan Lipnicki), reeling from a breakup (told in a cute sketchy 2D animation-style flashback) and in serious need of releasing his negative energy.
Marc, the driver, acts as their spirit guide, as he is a self-proclaimed shaman, pronounced “SHAY-MIN.” At the pleading of Sean (and offering of $500 in cash), the driver agrees to going off-app. The destination is Paradise, Nevada, and the vicinity to Vegas warrants Jenny throwing in some cash since she has now missed her flight, while Kara will “Venmo them later.” The rest of the film is mostly comprised of empty philosophical conversations about abortion, parenting, and semi-humorous dialogue like “may we be old and pathetic but never alone.”
I enjoyed the movie up to a certain point, but once Pooling to Paradise leaves the vehicle, there is decidedly less fun to be had. Camping in the desert amongst howling wolves sounds rife for dramatic revelations and comedy in equal measure—intimate tent chats and getting high on mushrooms are more this film’s wavelength. The actual destination of Paradise is underwhelming to top it off. Director Roxy Shih ends on a cheesy Hallmark-esque speech about everything learned and accomplished. The conclusion is so schmaltzy that it soured the rest a bit for me. As far as carpool movies go, this is ultimately just okay; the engine and parts of Pooling to Paradise could use a tune-up.
Pooling to Paradise requests a ride Tuesday, August 3rd, on VOD.