Tasty but undercooked. The story of two old friends on a camping trip. One is expecting a child, the other gets lost because he rolls joints on the map. It’s all very moody, and Yo La Tengo lingers over the Oregon mountains as they hike, camp, and talk about “that really great night in Big Sur.” The acting’s good, and the subtly deteriorating friendship makes for engrossing chamber drama. But even at a very brief 76 minutes, Old Joy feels padded. Scenes go on for a long time, but there aren’t enough of them. Even two stoned guys on a bad camping trip talk more than that–we never quite understand why Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham) liked each other in the first place, so the ending lacks punch. I wish writer-director Kelly Reichardt and short story writer Jonathan Raymond had taken Old Joy just a little further.

Old Joy. Kelly Reichardt, 2006. ***

[tags]camping, 3 stars, film, kelly reichardt, jonathan raymond, yo la tengo, oregon[/tags]