starring Michael Caine, Jonah Bobo, Josh Lucas, Glenne Headly
written and directed by Jordan Roberts
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. There's nothing alive in Around the Bend, a story of three generations of men healing one another during a road trip. It's just as bad as it sounds: one contrivance piled upon another while Kentucky Fried Chicken looms large in nearly every scene and, by narrative necessity, figures in every critical plot point. The central metaphor for the film is a series of KFC bags, crumpled up and stuffed inside each other like Russian dolls--each entrusted with a couple of post-it notes containing cryptic messages that send our cardboard boys on a scavenger hunt across the Four Corners area of the western United States. It's the manner in which grand patriarch Henry (Michael Caine) decides he'll reveal to his grandson Jason (Josh Lucas) why and how his leg doesn't work right anymore. Jason has been raised by Henry ever since Jason's father, Turner (Christopher Walken), ran out on them when Jason was just a crippled tot; now Jason has a moppet of his own, saucer-eyed Zach (Jonah Bobo). Zach, regrettably, is saddled with the task of being the precious/precocious font of the film's alleged humour and the lion's share of its bittersweetness as well. Bad enough that Caine and Walken agreed to be in this mess; they consented to playing second fiddle to Tiny Tim, too.