Stellar Ensemble Fuels This Heartwarming Road Trip Movie

May 31, 2024 - Movies


  • Bobby Cannavale shines in a standout role as a struggling comic navigating life with his autistic son, played memorably by William A. Fitzgerald.
  • The film effectively addresses family dynamics, communication issues, and the lengths parents go to for their children in a heartwarming way.
  • Inspired by real-life experiences, Ezra’s emotional depth, stellar ensemble cast, and engaging narrative make it a must-watch for audiences of all ages.

Summer moviegoers looking for a heartwarming crowd-pleaser can bank on Ezra. The engaging new comedy-drama is directed with equal parts vigor and grace by Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon, Conviction, TV’s Scandal), who makes great use of Tony Spiridakis’s (Greenport, Queen’s Logic) passion-filled script about a beleaguered comedian struggling to co-parent his autistic son. This otherwise engaging road trip film may wobble creatively a bit as it heads to the finish line, but thanks to its stellar ensemble cast, great storytelling, and sharp directing style, Ezra shines like a gem.

Meet Max (a deeply moving Bobby Cannavale), a down-on-his-luck, divorced, middle-aged stand-up comic who can’t cut a break, personally or professionally. Living with his father (Robert De Niro) seems like a dead end, but he does find hope with the joy of his life, Ezra (William A. Fitzgerald), his 11-year-old autistic son he co-parents with his ex, Jenna (Rose Byrne). When new decisions about Ezra’s future must be made, Max impulsively takes Ezra on a “road trip” in an effort to buy some time. But it may find him doing time instead.

Appealing from beginning to end, Ezra also stars Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Conjuring), Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost, Harlem), and Rainn Wilson (The Office). Look for Goldwyn in a supporting role, too. This is one of the finest casts you can ask for, and in watching the film, you get the sense these fine actors know they were connected to some great filmmaking. Ezra is perfect for the entire family, but general audiences will also appreciate how well it explores family dynamics, the importance of breaking cycles of generational miscommunications, and the lengths parents would go to protect the bonds they have with their own children. It’s a special kind of road trip film with a ton of heart.

Ezra (2023)


Release Date
May 31, 2024

1h 40m

Tony Spiridakis


  • Bobby Cannavale puts in an impressive performance
  • Everyone in the cast and crew clearly cares about the story
  • Effectively touches on issues of communication in families

  • The narrative loses its way a little in the third act

Bobby Cannavale in a Standout Role

Bleecker Street

One of the greatest delights Ezra offers (and there are many) is Bobby Cannavale. The two-time Emmy winner (Will & Grace, Boardwalk Empire) bares all emotionally in this film. A consistently reliable actor, it’s as if any remaining creative restraints have been removed when playing Max in such a vulnerable way. Cannavale’s powerhouse performance drives most of the film. A flailing comic who is more of a humorous storyteller than a joke-cracking dynamo on stage, Max can’t get by on just $50 a gig. His manager Jayne (Goldberg) is supportive but she, too, has grown weary of Max getting his own way. Unresolved parental conflicts and outbursts on stage only fuel Max’s unpredictable emotional fire.

If you’re wondering if Robert De Niro can still put a new spin on playing an overbearing dad, well, he can. De Niro plays Max’s pop, Stan, here. The Oscar-winner slipped into a similar role last year opposite Sebastian Maniscalco in About My Father, but in this much more grounded portrayal, he is refreshingly believable. Stan spars with Max, but the reason for their emotional divide lies underneath the surface and the film does a fine job drawing that out as things move along, but the central father/son focus lands on Max and Ezra.

Bleecker Street

The tides are turning. Ezra’s outbreaks at school are increasing — the boy does not like to be touched. Max and Jenna can avert such outbreaks by gently rubbing Max’s earlobes to calm him down, but lately, he seems more on edge. Jenna’s decision to have a doctor evaluate Ezra triggers Max and rather than confront these difficult decisions, Max abducts Ezra in Stan’s vintage car. He tells Ezra they’re going on an adventurous road trip and, with that car, it sure becomes one. The film switches gears at this point, becoming a father-son-focused story filled with enjoyable moments, plot twists, and a rush to resolve a growing problem that draws in the FBI as Jenna attempts to find Ezra and Stan coaches Max from afar.


Best Bobby Cannavale Movies, Ranked

Bobby Cannavale’s filmography spans across decades, mediums, and genres. Here’s a look at his best movies, ranked.

Refreshing Take on the Road Trip Film

Bleecker Street

The film’s tender, beating heart is newcomer William A. Fitzgerald, who turns in a memorable performance as Ezra, a boy, to the surprise of his elders, who knows what he needs to feel safe. It’s just that it takes Max a while to catch on, and perhaps at too big of a cost. Cannavale and Fitzgerald deliver seamless, believable performances in this endeavor. As natural fits, they give us two characters to care about and invest in.

The script avoids standard road movie tropes as our father-son duo detour here and there, first by visiting Max’s comedy buddy (Rainn Wilson), then a farm owned by Grace (Vera Farmiga), a compassionate woman from Max’s distant past. Max keeps two things in focus: bonding with Ezra and eventually getting to Hollywood, where his manager landed him a gig on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show. The film teeters a bit toward the end as screenwriter Tony Spiridakis attempts to wrap everything up, but not so much that it fully misses the landing.


Best Road Trip Movies, Ranked

Hollywood is no stranger to producing hilarious and entertaining road trip films, including these ultimate cross-country movies.

Inspired by Real Life

Bleecker Street

Ezra was, in fact, inspired by Spiridakis’s real-life experiences with his own neurodivergent son, who is now 24. The screenwriter explored similar father-son dynamics in the 2017 pilot Greenport, which revolved around a man raising a son with autism. Spiridakis’s personal link here gives the film an extra emotional boost and it appears that everybody drawn into the project — from Goldwyn to De Niro and Cannavale and Byrne, a real-life couple who’ve costarred in projects close to their hearts before (see Seriously Red for some escapist fun) — became deeply invested in getting things right.

Behind-the-scenes titans, too. Film editor Sabine Hoffman (Passing, The Glorias), for instance, so wonderfully crafts a swiftly moving tale, creating a sense of ongoing movement throughout. Producers William Horberg, Jon Kilik, Goldwyn, and Spiridakis seem to have taken great care in assembling a production crew that understood the film’s passion and heart.

But it’s the cast and central story that stand out the most. This is a story most people can relate to because it revolves around love, connection, acceptance, and coming to terms with our differences. The latter half of the film leans into understanding three generations of miscommunication — Stan, Max, and Ezra — and the ripple effects that can cause. Ezra hits theaters Frida, May 31. Watch the trailer below.

Source link

Play Cover Track Title
Track Authors