If you haven’t already guessed: this is another John Doe flick in our week-long tribute to his acting career. And even though John Doe brought us here — and does a great turn as a romantic lead — if he wasn’t here, I still would have loved this under-the-radar sleeper. The feature film writing debut for Lifetime and Hallmark movie scribe Betsy Morris, you may have watched SnowComing (2019), her most recent offering as result of its direction by Peter DeLuise — yes, son of Burt Reynolds’s buddy Dom (The Cannonball Run), and of the Stargate TV-verse.
And while Peter got me to watch Morris’s latest film and John got me to watch her first film, it was the fan base afforded to Elisabeth Harnois, Danneel (Harris) Ackles, and Jensen Ackles of TV’s One Tree Hill and Supernatural that got everyone else to watch.
It’s a simple story (with nicely-arced, complex characters) about the Empire Records-esque crew of Beach City Grill, a Santa Cruz sandwich shop owned by Trucker (John Doe), a surfing-hippie and de facto father to the staff of “not normal” twenty-somethings dealing with romantic issues and personal skeletons. Yes, even John Doe, who pines for Zo (Alice Krige of Sleepwalkers and Thor: The Dark World), the owner of a Wiccan store across the street. For me, it all comes across as a lighter, less dramatic inversion of one of my all-time favorite films, Inside Moves (1980), a post-Superman film by Richard Donner concerned with the employees and patrons of a local bar.
Of course, as with most of the John Doe flicks we’ve watched this week, his character and its related subplot (well-written and buoyed by John’s heartfelt performance) are secondary to the youthful, female stars of the ensemble cast that also features Clea DuVall (Veep, Better Call Saul, and American Horror Story; John Carpenter’s Ghost of Mars).
Piper (Elisabeth Harnois) is a new-to-Santa Cruz artist searching for a lost family member and meets single dad Noah (Sean Patrick Flanery of Boondock Saints fame), Tish (Danneel Ackles) is a promiscuous temptress, Jen (Clea DuVall) is a humanitarian so shy, she searches for love on Net, and Priestly (a great Jensen Ackles), is a smarter-and-more-sensitive than-he-looks punk rocker who hides his insecurity through quips and off-the-cuff debates about Kurt Cobain and John Lennon.
To say anymore would be telling and ruin your experience of watching this charming, charismatic film. John scored himself a great role here, and you can enjoy it as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTV.
Yeah, this is my favorite John Doe performance of all the films this week. Yeah, Doe as Pat McGurn in Road House and his work here, as Trucker. Great stuff. Watch it.