Take Me Home is simple, delightful and funny. The film centers around two individuals: Claire (Amber Jaeger) who is desperate to get home and Thom (writer & director, Sam Jaeger), who does everything he can to avoid his. We begin in Manhattan, where Thom drives a fake cab for extra cash. He picks up Claire, who has just caught her husband in the midst of an affair and who has also learned that her father just had a heart attack. Thom and Claire’s paths merge here and they high-tail it to San Diego so that Claire can be with her father.
In order for a road trip film to work, there are three (probably more) things that have to be executed well. First, the scenery has to be interesting. Second, the characters must be developed and we have to care about them. Finally, the music has to be good, but not too imposing.
As far as the scenery goes, in Take Me Home, it speaks for itself. We go from the East coast to the West coast with plenty of beautiful countryside in between. We’re not just seeing America through the cab window, we’re literally “out in it”. For instance, in Utah, the characters are forced to spend some time outside of the vehicle and the characters get to experience the land first-hand.
Thom and Claire are more than the cliché’ polar opposites destined to end up together that we are used to seeing in romantic comedies. They are two decent, yet troubled individuals who are trying to find their way. They end up getting “there” and manage to learn a lot from each other in the process. Take Me Home avoids progressing heavy-handedly with the idea in mind that these two will eventually get together. It’s a road trip and on road trips, the passengers suffer, endure and grow. We see the many flaws of both Claire and Thom and we watch as these flaws come to the surface and are soothed by one another. Take Me Home doesn’t adhere to any type of formula. There’s no inevitable misunderstanding where one character pulls away from the other so that there can be a melodramatic reconciliation just before the ending credits role. The film has a strong script and does well to avoid these cliché pitfalls. In Take Me Home, our characters are too strongly developed and aren’t likely to fall victim to such silly misunderstandings. Chalk it up to a thoughtful and well-written script, but Sam and Amber Jaeger’s strong performances also help.
The music in Take Me Home fits its road trip style. The music is by Jordan Becket, otherwise known as Bootstraps. Picture our beautiful homeland scenery with an acoustic, Americana style music in the background and a smooth Ray Lamontagne-like voice serenading us as we go along. The music is just enough to have us think to ourselves, “I’ll need to look this up later” without distracting us from the film. There are many ways a road trip film can go wrong. Take Me Home doesn’t fall victim to any of these. It is a lighthearted romantic comedy, but has an artistic beauty about it. The cinematography is strong and makes great use of its natural surroundings which is a must in any road trip film. Take Me Home is mostly about two people in one car. However, I couldn’t help but thinking that the beautiful American landscape itself is a third character, silent but ever-present. For a film shot over a three year span with a small budget and an eight-man crew, it exceeds all expectations and turned out to be quite delightful.