Equal parts delightfully fun and emotionally heart-breaking, Don't Make Me Go is a cheerful yet cliché summer romp that may not do anything new, but impresses nonetheless.
Written by Becca Johnson / June 29, 2022
Starring John Cho (Searching) and Mia Isaac in her debut performance, Don't Make Me Go is a coming-of-age drama comedy about a single Father, Max, who discovers he has a fatal brain tumour. He takes his daughter Wally on an impromptu road trip in the hope to find her Mother, who abandoned them both years prior.
The Father Daughter relationship is the best feature of Don't Make Me Go. Max and Wally have a fair amount of fights, disagreements and playful arguments, yet seeing them make up and enjoy precious time together never gets boring. It's heavily relatable, portraying teenage life in a more realistic way than most scripts manage to. The characters are likeable both together and separately, with the movie making sure its audience gets to know them enough. Max is a character who loves his daughter and only wants the best for her, having brought her up on his own for most of his life. He has a regular 'booty call' yet doesn't seem to branch out enough, his daughter often accusing him of not taking risks. Wally is a mature and good daughter at heart, who loves her Father but struggles with feeling controlled and wanting more freedom. Both are undeniably by the books but well written, and best of all, likeable and relatable.
Cho and Isaac are both phenomenal. John Cho has previously proven he can fall right into the father of a teenage daughter role, Don't Make Me Go being no exception. Mia Isaac relishes her role in a naturalistic way, creating a believable teenager that you can't help but want the best for. This movie being her debut makes it all the more impressive; her upcoming role in Quinn Shephard's Not Okay alongside Zoey Deutch and Dylan O'Brien becomes one to look forward to later this year. The roster also boasts a charming yet underutilised Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner), as Max's frequent sexual partner Annie. She has a few great scenes and acts well, but doesn't quite have enough screen time to have a huge impact.
The plot is simple and digestible, but that isn't necessary a bad thing. It's fun to go along for the ride with these two characters as they learn more about each other and strengthen their already solid bond. The road trip contains enough laughs, love, crying sessions and karaoke to provide entertainment. The humour and emotion is balanced exceptionally well; there's enough light-heartedness to let you have fun, but the script cleverly looms Max's illness over the story like a shadow. At 109 minutes, things get a little repetitive as it maybe overstays its welcome by 20 minutes or so, but it's hard to locate any scene that doesn't belong. That is, until we get to the ending. Without entering spoiler territory, the ending doesn't ruin everything that came before, but it comes close. It's out of the blue, shocking and bizarre, unfortunately not in a good way. It seemed like a very odd choice to make, purely being there for shock factor and doing little for the story as a whole.
Don't Make Me Go is worth checking out, having a little something for everyone. It balances its comedy and drama nicely to create an easily digestible yet emotionally investing watch. It has a star in the making performance from Mia Isaac, with Cho and Scodelario being as delightful as ever. It may be cliché with its coming of age qualities, but it offers something different with it's terminal illness plot. The script doesn't do much different to what we're used to, but the killer soundtrack and likeable characters elevate it to a higher level. However, the run-time is definitely too long for the story being told, and the ending leaves much to be desired. Don't Make Me Go is far from peak cinema, but is definitely worth your time.