C’mon C’mon You Gotta Watch C’mon C’mon. Some movies are so much more than the sum of their parts. If I were to tell you why you need to watch C’mon C’mon simply by telling you about the story, you’d miss literally 72.3% of why you should watch it. Why 72.3%? Um. Yeah, okay, maybe I should have said… you’d have missed MOST of the reasons as to why you should watch this film. Fine. But regardless, C’mon C’mon is a poignantly glorious telling of a relationship between an uncle and his nephew. See?!? I TOLD YOU YOU WOULD MISS 72.3% of why you should watch!! Gah. You aren’t even the slightest bit interested. And yet, your world will be better off having watched.
Here… still not clear why you should watch, here’s a list of the reasons. #1 – Joaquin Phoenix – playing the role of Johnny. #2 – Woody Norman, playing the role of Jesse. #3 – A24, you know, the production house? They literally never go wrong. #4 – Robbie Ryan, Director of Photography. #5 – The Black & White shots (yes, I know, I’m being repetitive, deal with it, it deserves its own thing.)
C’mon C’mon’s Story Backbone
Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) is a radio journalist. Johnny’s mother died within the last year, and it has caused his once close relationship with his sister Viv (played by Gaby Hoffmann) to go off the tracks. But a year on after their mother’s death, Viv needs help because her ex-husband(?) has gone on a manic-depressive bender of some sort, and Viv feels she really needs to step in and get him help. So Johnny, a radio journalist who travels the country for some sort of NPR news-like segment, interviewing children about their lives, their thoughts, etc., etc. Johnny offers to help Viv out and so he heads to Los Angeles to watch her son Jesse… a precocious nine-year-old. And it is this dynamic duo, the Johnny/Jesse duo, that makes up the emotional narrative of this film.
Quickly the week long deadline extends as Paul, Viv’s ex, refuses her help. And so our dynamic duo move from the sand and sun of the beaches of Los Angeles to the city of New York. The story goes about as dynamically as you’d think it would for anyone who has never had kids before… they get on each other’s nerves, Johnny snaps at Jesse, etc. But through it all, Johnny teaches Jesse how to use his audio recording equipment and let’s Jesse participate in the interviews he’s doing. Meanwhile, Jesse flips the script and begins interviewing his uncle Johnny about his relationship with his mother, their parents; very detailed and prying questions – not too unlike the questions that Johnny is asking his young interviewees. But it soon becomes clear that Viv and Johnny fought over the best way to care for their mother. And it also comes out that Johnny is separated from a once long-term relationship, and Johnny is probably still in love with her.
Work for Johnny begins to pull him deeper into other commitments, and push him to return to the road… and Jesse is getting homesick. It’s decided that Jesse will head back to be with his mother, but after he barricades himself in the bathroom, Johnny let’s him stay. It is during one of Johnny question assignments in New Orleans that Jesse starts asking his uncle about his father, and his father’s manic-depressive problems. And he worries that he’ll also have issues similar to his father’s. But his uncle makes sure that he knows that he won’t have the same issues because his mother has taught him how to deal with his emotions. (Which, as an aside, really has absolutely nothing to do with how he will be impacted by manic depression… says a guy who’s own father is manic depressive and also has the same serious concerns as Jesse.) Regardless, the good news is that Viv’s ex (which I should point out is played by Scoot McNairy – who was brilliant in Halt and Catch Fire, and also Monsters… just saying) has finally agreed to get help. But when Jesse hears the news, Jesse runs away. And when his uncle finally catches him, Johnny let’s Jesse know it’s okay to say he’s not happy. And the next thing we know is that the duo are screaming in the park together. And then laughing. Soon after, Viv flies to New Orleans to pick Jesse up – and the movie ends with Jesse receiving an audio recording recounting the entirety of their trips together.
Thoughts on the Movie C’mon C’mon
“Whatever you plan on happening, never happens. Stuff you would never think of happens. So you have to just come on. Come on, come on, come on…”
Not that it matters, but I recently came to an epiphany that you will laugh at me for realizing… But I realized that life is tenuous. Don’t take that word lightly… it took me over six months to come up with. I was straining, and striving to come up with it. You see, it was in the midst of the chaos of Covid… and I had just been laid off. I know right? And as I was thrashing about, trying to figure out what I was going to do next, (if only this gig, writing about movies, actually paid me anything at all! hahah.) finally, the word tenuous came to me out of the blue. That’s it! Life is so very tenuous. You know, best laid plans of mice and men, and all of that. But I had spent my entire life working to stack the perfect resume together, and the perfect life experiences, the perfect this, the perfect that, all in order to create the best life for my family possible. But I realized, that it just doesn’t ultimately matter. And some of my favorite things in the world now? They come from the experience of this hardcore right turn that was thrown at me. Some of my favorite people I wouldn’t have met – some of my favorite lunches – some of my favorite conversations… all came as a result of being creamed by a Louisville slugger.
C’mon C’mon is all about that idea of finding the perfect in the imperfect. You know? It’s all about the honest earnestness of kids, and how we can learn from them. It’s about being honest with yourself and with others. It’s a really amazing reminder of the beauty of life that is all around us. Oh, and did you see that cinematography? It literally brought tears to my eyes regularly. Like, over and over again. Just stunned at the gloriousness of the craft involved here. The shot selection, the acting, the screenplay, all melded together to craft one of the best movies of the year. If only I had watched it PRIOR to making my lists for the year!! hahaha.
If you are looking for another movie like this – the first movie that comes to mind is The Killing of Two Lovers. Yes, that one is crazy intense… but both deal with the reality and chaos of life.
Edited by: CY
Liked it? Take a second to support Taylor Holmes on Patreon!