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Release Date: 07/15/22 [Prime Video]

Genre: Drama

Studio: Amazon Studios

"When a single father to a teenage daughter learns that he has a fatal brain tumor, he takes her on a road trip to find the mother who abandoned her years before and to try to teach her everything she might need over the rest of her life."


“You’re not going to like how this story ends, but I think you’re going to like this story.” Don’t Make Me Go knows exactly what it’s doing to its audience, for better or for worse. After this opening line it’s totally up to the viewer to choose if this is a film they want to take a chance on. For the most part, this father/daughter road trip story is an incredibly heartwarming and realistic one. It’s perfect for families with older kids, and it’ll tug on all the right heart strings for film watchers who just want a simple story that will make them cry. For others (myself included), a certain twist at the end of the film will only leave a sour taste in your mouth, and it becomes hard to justify if this film is worth your time.


After single dad Max (John Cho) finds out that he has a potentially deadly brain tumor, he decides to take his daughter Wally (Mia Isaac) on a road trip to try to find her mother who left them when Wally was just an infant. Like many parent/child relationships, Max has a very hard time understanding Wally, and is often over protective of her, which only leads her to lash out and rebel even more. Similarly, Wally is frustrated feeling that her father isn’t living his life to the fullest that he can. It’s a classic story of trying to understand each other, and how different events in your life can change both your outlook, and the course that it takes.


As a road trip movie, the film can easily use these themes it’s trying to tackle to its benefit, by presenting new and obscure situations the father/daughter duo encounter. While the relationship is cute and relatable, it never really breaches any new or interesting views that haven’t already been seen before in other family road trip films such as Little Miss Sunshine. Nevertheless, it’s fun to see the two of these characters interact with each other. John Cho is always amazing, of course, but his costar and debatably the heart of the film Mia Isaac leaves much to be desired in the sense of her performance. Often hit or miss, it’s difficult to see her try to hold her ground against veteran actor Cho.


And then there’s the ending. Twist endings can have the potential to be incredibly powerful, moving, and revolutionary when done correctly, but often they are too difficult to really nail down and justify. Unfortunately, Don’t Make Me Go fits into the latter half of this category. For a good twist ending to work, it both needs to be properly foreshadowed, and justified for the respective character’s arcs. In this case, the twist does neither one. There are moments throughout the film that are “foreshadowed”, but they’re so minimal, and the twist itself relies so heavily on a flashback/montage sequence to prove that those moments are in fact there. It also doesn’t feel entirely earned, as the trajectory the twist sets the characters on would have been easily achieved otherwise through the more natural events of the film. It only ends up cheapening the film, heavily relying on making the audience cry for a “wow” or shock moment to make up for the otherwise mediocre writing.


Incredibly polarizing, Don’t Make Me Go has some truly relatable moments, with a heartening road trip guiding a majority of the runtime. However, after the jarring twist, it becomes difficult to justify a watch.

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