End of the Road had the potential to be an interesting look at racial equality as a family moves to Texas. It stars Queen Latifah as a mother and sister who takes said family on a road trip to their new home. And that road tip is, well. An absolute car wreck. You see, director Millicent Shelton starts the movie in a promising fashion. A genuine portrait of a family reeling from the death father, husband and bread winner. And for the first act it’s enjoyable because it’s relatable and realistic.
There are some genuine moments where Latifa actually comes across as a mother, not a friend of her kids. Something that many movies don’t do very well. But then it comes off the rails and hits just about every trope on its way to the bottom of a deep chasm. Oh my gods, this movie is all over the place.
What’s it about
Latifa plays recently widowed, Brenda. She’s taking her two young kids and her brother to live with her mother. Why? Because she’s mortgaged the house to pay for medical bills for her now deceased husband. That’s a plausible scenario. Brenda has two kids. I was like, oh oh, please, no kids getting kidnapped. Guess what… Yeah…
Rapper ‘Ludacris’ is introduced as weed smoking brother and uncle, Reggie. I thought, okay, his first scene is him smoking weed. A bit on the nose, but I can roll with it. They all get into a car and head off on a road trip.
Along the way they encounter a myriad of issues. The first being Reggie himself. You see, Reggie suffers from the rare disorder of being an absolute bellend. He’s an idiot who thinks only about money and I honestly felt sorry for Ludacris. His character is laughable and has some of the dumbest lines, shame. Anyway, I get ahead of myself.
The first challenge that the family has to face (other than uncle Reggie) comes in the form of two hillbillies. They hit on Brenda’s daughter Kelly (Mychala Faith Lee) who in turn tells them to get lost. Turns out this isn’t a good idea.
I would have enjoyed the exploration of race and what that means for a black family trying to relocate to Texas. Why? Well, we all watch the news and we’re well aware of the reputation that Texas has for being full of racist dickheads. To make said racist characters actual rednecks is so cliched they lost me. These two character look like they were pulled off the set of Deliverance. They did allow Latifa some space to show saint-level restraint when it came to dealing with them. The humiliation that Brenda must endure to protect her family was well done. Sadly. it’s undermined somewhat by the sheer stereotype of the characters in question.
Bang bang, you’re dead
Finally the family make it to their pitstop. We see them bonding with a pillow fight that is rather cute. Later they are woken to the sounds of a fight, and a gun shot. Brenda is a nurse, and rushes next door to help. Here we find a guy with a bullet to the throat. Yeah. He isn’t making it. Reggie discovers a bag of cash under the sink in the room of shot guy. What do you do when you are clearly in a gangsters room? Yes, you steal the cash. Also, you don’t tell your sister until she’s getting hounded from the actual drug dealers. I mean, what could go wrong?
A day later and we are introduced to Beau Bridges who is the county Sherriff. He’s miffed that he’s missed the family as he wanted to ask them questions about the shooting. Brenda is adamant she has answered all the questions and wants to carry on with the road trip, until a mysterious phone call. This gets
bellend Reggie talking, and he confesses to stealing the money because he wants to help the family. His logic, is, well. No, there isn’t any. Just stupid but with a ‘heart of gold’. I can just imagine the pitch meeting. Brenda gets angry but also tries to control the situation. With varying degrees of bad.
Yeah, I am going to have to go into spoilers now, and trust me, you won’t care. I am doing you a service.
Brenda tries to return the bag. She does this by going to a motel and depositing it in a motel room. She then instructs the drug dealer to go pick it up. But the drug dealer doesn’t take no orders, yo! So instead, they kidnap Brenda’s son (we saw that coming) and demand she bring the money in person.
Sigh. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes.
A house cleaner discovers the money and runs off with it. However, turns out she’s also a Nazi-loving redneck and Brenda ends up in their trailer park. This is the only fun part of the movie. Watching a fed up black mother kick the snot out of Nazis is wish fulfilment on every level. She owns them and gets the money back. Oh, yes, I can’t forget. This scene takes place at night. For some reason all the hills around them are lit up purple, a lighting choice that remains throughout the movie during its night scenes.
Lights, camera, fuck it
I was baffled. Why were the background shots all coloured like a Nicholas Cage movie? Why did the director think ‘yup. Purple lit hills. That will work nicely’? I suppose in the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad. What is bad is the sheriff. You see Beau Bridges is a bad cop! Shock, horror? Nope. Me neither.
I’ve not seen many movies where the bad guy laughs like he’s an absolute imbecile. You know the laugh? The HAHAH! I gottcha! That laugh. Well he does it. Brenda has to go to his house to exchange the cash for her son and meets the sheriff’s wife. She too cackles like a witch while attempting to murder them all. The movie ends in a shootout at the Sherriff’s house with the background all lit in purple. God this movie is so dumb. I can’t even write more about it.
End of the Road veers so hard that it ends up like a parody of a thriller. The last scene is in a diner. And guess what guys, that lovable bellend Reggie has done it again, and has stolen the money! I type this with my head in my hands. The last line in the movie… it’s Brenda saying ‘I make my own rules’ like some hardcore bad ass. It’s actually embarrassing.
End of the Road gets a…