The family at the center of Youth in Oregon is a cranky lot. High atop the crank throne is Ray Engersol (Frank Langella), an 80-something curmudgeon and heart-attack survivor who chooses to travel to Oregon to be legally euthanized instead of going under the knife again for a valve replacement. Announcing this on his birthday obviously causes more drama within this stressed-out clan.
His doting daughter (Christina Applegate), with whom the old man has been living, gets her husband (Billy Crudup) to drive him across the country to Oregon in the hopes of convincing him not to go through with it. With Ray’s boozing/pill-popping wife (Mary Kay Place) in the backseat, the two men of course go on a very eventful road trip.
Directed with showy-but-soothing luminosity by actor Joel David Moore (Bones), Oregon is more than a bittersweet look at a man deciding to end his life before he’s too invalid to have a say in the matter: It’s a study of how plain ol’ stubbornness can keep a family forever brimming with dysfunction. Andrew Eisen’s screenplay has parents at constant odds with their offspring, with both parties steadfast in their belief that they’re doing what’s best and unwilling to back down.
In the end, Youth in Oregon reminds us how pointless that is once the inevitability of death comes into the picture. This is a movie likely to have people apologizing to family members afterwards about bullshit that has kept them apart for so long.
Youth in Oregon?
Directed by Joel David Moore?Samuel
Opens February 3, Village East Cinema