Review by Cat Earley
Following their previous flick – the short film Hi, Lad (2020) – Victor Dubyna, Nolan O’Kane, and Kirk Percival of Lad Films released their first feature film, and continuation of their short in what they have self-described as a ‘stoner-noir’. The Lad Goodbye (2022) follows the conventional beats of a classic noir detective story, but with a familiar brand of comedy weaved through, reminiscent of films like Pineapple Express (2008, David Gordon Green), with an aesthetic built on the doper culture of the late 90s and early noughties.
The film follows Lester Schmidt (Kirk Percival), a stoner and self-described ‘rogue man’ who goes in search of his missing roommate the day he is set to move out of town. What follows is a 140 minute long plot that documents Lester’s expedition as well as the many encounters and scenarios he faces along the way. Although the original concept seems solid and lends itself well to producing a series of events that could lead to a wacky and enjoyable experience, the sheer length of the film makes it difficult to chart any attempt at pacing over its course. Furthermore, the single-toned nature of the film combined with this length can render The Lad Goodbye monotonous, or even tedious, at times.
However, this is not to say that the production is without merit. The grainy, film-shot cinematography is cohesive with the tone and culture of the genre and many of the tracking shots are executed incredibly well and speak well for the film’s cinematographer. Many of the background references and easter eggs that pay homage to other films and cultural monuments of the stoner genre create a pleasant mood of nostalgia straight through the plot. They may even graze upon the possibility for a nostalgic revival of this genre that became so popular during the turn of the millennium.
Overall, The Lad Goodbye is no magnum opus – with an excessive runtime and sometimes repetitive editing and sound design – but it carries with it a subtle thematic possibility, as well as an obvious and clear passion for the craft of filmmaking that is not so often found. The cinematography is carefully crafted and their commitment to the desired genre is sincere. The film uses these attributes to create an overhanging aura of tranquillity that lulls its audience into a similar stoner-trance and lends credence to its tone. If there is one take away from a viewing of The Lad Goodbye, it is perhaps that the stoner genre is not quite dead yet after all.