Driver’s Ed Mutiny (2010) – By Matt Barry

Driver’s Ed Mutiny, from director Brad Hansen, begins with a fun, slick and well-paced sequence that sets the tone for the film that follows. It’s the second film from Collateral Damage Productions, and is an enjoyable road movie that presents interesting characters and a strong storyline that keeps it involving until the very end.

Nick (Hunter Johnson) wants to attend the last concert of his favorite band, “Crash Course”, but finds himself without a way of getting from Chicago to Los Angeles for the show. He teams up with driver’s ed classmates Peter (Kyle J. Miller) and Cole (Jillian Riley) and together they plot to steal the driver’s head car and head to Los Angeles together. The three sign up for lessons with the creepy Mr. Jackson (John Snipes) and set about with their plan. After poisoning their instructor while at a gas station (and cooking up some evidence to blackmail him with in order to keep him quiet), they set off on the open road in their stolen car. As they travel together, they open up to one another and learn quite a bit about each other as they share adventures on their cross-country road trip.

Driver’s Ed Mutiny manages to pull off its scenes of comedy well, while maintaining a real sense of care about its three main characters. There are quite a few genuinely touching moments, too, such as Cole’s confession about her family situation while the three are stranded in at a rest stop during a storm, and the scene in which they camp out under the stars in an abandoned auto camp off of Route 66. Far from the rather outlandish comic premise that sets the plot in motion, the film works toward a strong finish, grounded strongly in its characters, which makes it very rewarding.

The film benefits from a thoughtful script and engaging performances by its three leads. There’s also some gorgeous photography of the west that adds an interesting visual dimension to it. (Apparently 50 different locations in nine states were used, and this extensive use of location shooting certainly works to the film’s benefit!) Driver’s Ed Mutiny is an interesting, and successful, mix of comedy and drama. More information on the film is available at www.DriversEdMutiny.com.