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.