Film Review – C’mon C’mon (2021)

Title – C’mon C’mon (2021) 

Director – Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) 

Cast – Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Norman, Gaby Hoffmann

Plot – Single radio journalist Johnny (Phoenix) takes his young nephew Jesse (Norman) on a cross country road trip away from his home town of Los Angeles as his sister Liv (Hoffman) deals with her partner’s breakdown. 

“Everything is in motion” 

Review by Eddie on 07/04/2022

For his first foray back in front of the cameras following his Oscar winning triumph with the Joker in 2019, Joaquin Phoenix couldn’t have chosen a more far removed feeling film and character from his much spoken about Arthur Fleck role, as he takes on softly spoken radio journalist/uncle Johnny in Mike Mills humanly focused road trip/slice of life tale C’mon C’mon

A slowly paced black and white affair that feels both familiar and different in the ebbs and flows of its runtime, C’mon is a small film with a big message as Johnny’s self-interested life takes a turn for the unexpected when he is called upon to look after his sister Liv’s young son Jesse, as the two different souls find solace in one another’s company as they set off on a road trip of sorts around America, learning about others and more importantly, each other. 

Keeping things mostly dramatic with sprinklings of world wearied humor thrown in for good measure, Mills is not interested in easy oddball couple laughs or hijinks as he keeps things seeped in the real world throughout, with his two leading men doing great work in all instances both individually and together as Phoenix showcases a different side to his usual gruff on screen persona and Woody Norman doing his chances of future stardom no disservice as he plays off against one of Hollywood’s most polished performers. 

There’s no big moments in Mill’s trip, no room for grandstanding or distractions from the core friendship and bond that builds between Johnny and Jesse and there’s not even true conflict found throughout that threatens to take C’mon in any form of unexpected directions, with this being both a blessing and a curse to a film that is easy to sit back and enjoy but one that also doesn’t provide us with any particular reason to think back upon a film that we’ve witnessed in many different forms throughout cinematic history. 

With his actors doing such an admirable job grounding their characters and giving them heart and soul you do leave this tale wishing that Mill’s had somehow managed to give us something more to hold onto, something emotionally powerful, something special, as while there’s no doubting C’mon is a lovely little character study filled with a human warmth and understanding, there’s a magic that’s missing, a piece of the puzzle not found that might just have made this pleasant experience something more. 

Final Say – 

A well-filmed character centric drama with two fine performances from its leading duo Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman, C’mon C’mon is a nice film but its familiar nature devoid of that special something holds it back from being anything more than a pleasing distraction.

3 1/2 microphones out of 5  

9 responses to “Film Review – C’mon C’mon (2021)

  1. I’m not a parent (& don’t want to be) but found this incredibly poignant in quite a few places, especially with Johnny’s interviews with the kids, hearing their views and also that natural/documentary-like experience gave us a different way in in than usual.

    I really liked it, in a Paterson kinda way, something gentle, something insightful into people who aren’t necessarily in your face and that aspect was the pull for me, and I didn’t expect it either.

    Oh, and kids obsessed with death isn’t spoken about enough in film, haha – I’ve known relatives with kids like that, it’s always mad but fascinating as adults loving death is fine, but when you’re a kid it gives you a different insight.

    • Some great insights into the film mate. I am a little surprised it didn’t manage to snare any Oscar nominations. Even if I didn’t love the film I had a feeling it may’ve made itself known at the Oscars in a few departments.

      • Cheers, and yeah – it’s got that edge but maybe too indie for them more BAFTA fodder!

        (I loved CODA btw, but surprised the Academy even included it haha)

      • When I watched Coda a few months ago there is no way I could have ever predicted it to be the big Oscar player it was!

  2. This is Phoenix at his best. Not necessarily here in C’mon C’mon, but in the way he chooses his roles. It nice to see him not in a dark place. I love his eclectic nature. Fine film that should have got some better recognition during awards season.

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