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‘Pooling to Paradise’ review: Standard indie fare has its moments

Hell is other people.

Pooling to Paradise sounds like it was created from an indie film manual. Cast a former child actor (Jerry Lipnicki), have that person go on a road trip with complete strangers who are also dealing with their dysfunctional lives, have everyone realize their different struggles make them more alike than they first thought, throw in a psychedelic drug scene and let things get real. The film pretty much writes itself.

Jenny (Lynn Chen) is headed to a blogger conference in Las Vegas. When she calls her rideshare, she accidentally selects “pool”. The four strangers initially clash, but the longer the ride lasts, the more they are willing to talk. Movies are a copycat industry, so audiences will be quick to forgive the unoriginal story and characters. What is a little harder to gloss over is the tiresome first half. Pooling to Paradise introduces its characters with little backstory before providing a convoluted reason to keep them all together.

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'Pooling to Paradise' review: Standard indie fare has its moments

Thankfully, the second half of the film is much stronger. Pooling to Paradise really finds itself as it moves away from light comedy and becomes a heavy character drama. There is still a predictability to the story, but it is also more engaging. This is helped by the intimate setting of the film. The majority of the movie takes place in the confined space of the car. Instead of feeling claustrophobic, Pooling to Paradise takes on a personal feel. 

When the story does leave the car, it becomes noticeably less interesting. Nowhere is this more clear than in the film’s feel good ending. Instead of letting things close naturally, Pooling to Paradise shoehorns in a feel good speech. The whole things seems out of context in the face of everything that has just happened. It seems to want to drive home the point of the film, but ends up being a dead end.

Pooling to Paradise comes to VOD August 3


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