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The Art of Travel
DVD disk
06.19.2008 By: Mathew Plale
The Art of Travel order
Director:
Thomas Whelan

Actors:
Christopher Masterson
Johnny Messner
Brooke Burns

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After leaving his unfaithful high school sweetheart at the altar, young Connor (Masterson) takes off for Nicaragua...then Panama, to help a group of tourists set a world record.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’ve been dragged on too many radio-less family road trips to call traveling an “art.” And this year’s The Art of Travel doesn’t try hard to convince me otherwise, merely hinting at the adventure, allure, danger, and romance of a foreign land.

Connor (Christopher Masterson of Malcolm in the Middle) has just discovered his wife-to-be in bed with his best man. So he does what any other heartbroken fella would do: trade in his honeymoon trip to Cancun for a one-way ticket to Nicaraqua for nine weeks of booze, stolen córdoba, and ill-advised sex with Dutch tourists.

From here, Connor jets to Panama where he meets an American couple (Johnny Messner, Brooke Burns) who, with a group of uniquely-nicknamed international tourists (‘One Ball’ and ‘G-Spot’ amongst them), plot to trek the Darién Gap, a 100-plus-mile-long swampland bridging Panama and Colombia. Tempting, even for a future Berkeley student.

Co-writers Thomas Whelan and Brian LaBelle’s The Art of Travel had the ingredients for a terrific study of the necessity to simply “get away.” And while it starts off promising enough (a colorful cast, on-location filming), impatient director Whelan is more concerned with rushing his characters’ journey (which takes up less than half of the running time), making the record-setting struggle—baseball-sized mosquitoes, flash floods, and machinegun-wielding guerrillas, et al)—comparable to a day trip.

Instead, overwritten monologues and a hokey love angle propel themselves to the forefront of the expedition. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, or maybe it’s the pretentious title, but The Art of Travel is—production values and gorgeous cinematography (by Lawson Deming)—brimmed with unfulfilled promises.
THE EXTRAS
Webisodes (9:32): Episodes 1 (‘Gonzo Filmmaking’) and 5 (‘INT. JUNGLE - DAY’) are included on the disc. In ‘Gonzo Filmmaking,’ co-writers/producers Whelan and LaBelle discuss shooting on-location in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. In ‘INT. JUNGLE – DAY,’ the guys (along with co-stars Johnny Messner and Brooke Burns) discuss the difficulties that troubled the cast/crew while filming in the jungle. Behind-the-scenes footage highlights the Webisodes.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Enjoyable enough for the travelers-at-heart...but the revelations of Into the Wild, The Motorcycle Diaries, or the works of Kerouac are nonexistent.
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