This dark comedy thriller about a madcap, perilous day in the life of a Hollywood limo driver who goes by the nickname Stretch gets off to such a hectic, abrasive start that many viewers will wish to jump out immediately.
The opening could hardly be bumpier as Patrick Wilson’s failed actor turned frazzled chauffeur buttonholes us with a smart-aleck narration that proves instantly grating. Stick with him, though, and his surreal escapades turn out to be surprisingly entertaining.
It turns out that the Los Angeles limo trade is a cutthroat business, but Stretch has even more pressing concerns than swaggering rival The Jovi (Randy Couture) pinching his clients. Still smarting from a painful break-up with his gorgeous ex (Brooklyn Decker), he is also recovering from cocaine and gambling addictions and has the hallucinatory ghost of a former colleague (Ed Helms) bugging him about his many shortcomings.
His most acute concern on this day, however, is the fact that he has until midnight to pay a $6,000 gambling debt or face the wrath of Mexican gangsters. His only hope, it seems, is the prospect of picking up a big tip from berserk billionaire Roger Karos, who requires ‘a driver, a confidante, a bag-man and a protector’.
Played with nutty abandon by a wildly bearded, barely recognisable (and uncredited) Chris Pine, Karos parachutes naked onto the bonnet of Stretch’s car and leads him into a series of lunatic scrapes that gain a rollicking comic momentum. Along the way, Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff provide a pair of enjoyably self-mocking cameos, and Jessica Alba dials back the glamour to play Stretch’s loyal dispatcher.
You can see why writer-director Joe (Smokin’ Aces) Carnahan’s effort went straight to VOD instead of the cinema, the film’s intended destination, but for all its shortcomings, Stretch is one hell of a ride.
Certificate 15. Runtime 91 mins. Director Joe Carnahan.
Stretch is released on Digital Download, DVD & Blu-ray by Universal Pictures.