Going In:

Never heard of it.  Patrick Wilson? Ed Helms? Chris Pine? Jessica Alba? How have I never heard of this?  A good comedy on Netflix’s streaming service is gold, so you know I’ve gotta check it out.

Review:

Stretch is the story of a wild day in the LA life of a hard-luck limo driver, played by Patrick Wilson. He’s an aspiring actor chasing down long odds to pay back a $6000 gambling debt owed to leg-breaking gangster-types. After a series of mishaps trying to steal clients from a competing limo service, an eccentric billionaire (Chris Pine) lands in the back seat and promises a big payoff in return for a night of doing whatever he says.

This film is instantly and consistently funny throughout, with a quick pacing that will keep you engaged to the end. The plot has a distinctly retro feel, as if the screenplay had been discovered in an abandoned storage locker that hadn’t been paid on since 1987. Despite the vintage-style story, Stretch feels fresh after 10 years of Judd Apatow’s dominance of R-rated comedy cinema.

There’s also a bit of film noir mixed in. It’s never clear just who the good and bad guys really are as Stretch navigates the twists and turns like Bogart, trying to keep himself from getting in deeper trouble as he is haunted by the ghost of limousines past. He’s walking the tight rope, trying to keep everyone happy: his insanely angry boss, demented clientele, bookie thugs, and federal agents who think he’s up to something big. Some of the best moments come when he’s able to pull together his B-level detective show acting talent to talk his way out of a sticky situation.

Neither Patrick Wilson nor Chris Pine are regulars in the comedy genre, but both are perfect in their roles. There are also a couple of great cameos from David Hasselhoff and Ray Liotta. Both of them are exactly how I’d imagine them in real life — and just as hilarious as Michael Cera’s appearance in This Is The End.

I watched this movie before I became aware of a couple of things that would have made me wary. First, director Joe Carnahan had also directed Smokin’ Aces, which stands out as one of the biggest disappointments in my personal history of cinema.  Not because it was a terrible movie, mind you, but because it had a trailer that implied the greatest action movie of the millennium, yet it was long on style and short on substance.   Stretch was also produced by Jason Blum, famous for low-budget horror flicks like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and The Purge.  I don’t have a whole lot of love for any of these, but they are apparently good money-makers.

Stretch is another film in a long line of these “micro-budget” movies, but it doesn’t feel cheap. It goes to show that you can still get a lot of bang for the buck in Hollywood. This is especially true of the comedy genre, where writing and characters take center stage and don’t require a boatload of cash to nail.  It’s amazing to me that Universal Studios killed Stretch‘s planned theatrical release in March 2014. What other treasures have the marketing departments been keeping from us?

Conclusion:

This is a gem of a comedy, somehow derailed from the silver screen directly to my plasma screen.  In the sea of low-grade comedies on Netflix’s streaming service, Stretch floats to the top.

Stretch Review
A great under-the-radar comedy that I absolutely would have bought a ticket for.
Storytelling7
Craftsmanship6.5
Performances7.5
Satisfaction8.5
The Good
  • Chris Pine is funnier than Shatner ever was
  • Feels like a steal when it goes directly to Netflix
  • One of the best comedies on Netflix right now
The Bad/Ugly
  • Driving a limo is a hell of a downgrade for the Nite Owl
  • Chris Pine's whitey-tighty funky junk
  • Jessica Alba fans can get a better fix watching Sin City again
7.4Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Justin

I'm a video game programmer, just like Chev Chelios. I've loved movies all of my life, favor substance over style, and try to have high standards and an open mind.

  • http://mastercritic.com/ Tim

    You really nailed my feelings on this one. It’s so rare to find such an entertaining “surprise” film.