Director: Jim Cummings
Cinematography: Lowell A. Meyer
Writers: Jim Cummings
Editors: Dustin Hahn, Brian Vanucci
Stars: Jim Cummings, Kendall Farr, Nican Robinson
When we look back at film in 2018, Jim Cumming’s “Thunder Road” will always be one of those hidden gems, featuring possibly my favorite performance of the entire year.
The film begins with Officer Jim Arnaud (Jim Cummings) trying to slam two batteries into a small, pink, pig-themed stereo at a church. Instantly we’re inserted into this story and already fundamentally understand this character that we will watch become unfairly demonized and unhinged throughout the film. What follows directly after that scene is pure-joy while doubling as an overwhelming emotional scene as Cummings dances silently at his mothers funeral. This is why Thunder Road is so effective.
For one thing, the opening sequence is so memorable in its execution. It sets the perfect tone for the rest of the film. It’s a moment that’s hard to look at but almost impossible to look away from. And while it is hilarious, it also reeks of pure pain and emotion. This sense of dread is present throughout, but unlike most films, it’s able to incorporate serious emotional trauma with the nuttiness and awkwardness that’s true to Cummings character. It balances that line of comedy-drama about as good as I’ve ever seen. The amount of times the film is able to seamlessly bounce from a funny moment to a gut-punching, jarring moment is extremely impressive.
And while I did enjoy Kendall Farr and Nican Robinson’s performances in their supporting roles, “Thunder Road” was a one-man show headed by Jim Cummings. His performance was unreal. He can go from terribly sad back to normal in the blink of an eye and it’s completely organic and believable. He totally buys into every emotion and it translates well on the screen. His high-pitch crying voice works so well because it’s effective in both sad and funny scenes. Absolutely one of my favorite performances of the year.
The production on the film is simple. It’s all about the story and performances here. The filmmaking is nothing to ride home about, but Cummings set it up for the actors to bring it home and they didn’t disappoint. Honestly, this film doesn’t work if Cummings isn’t so good.
In terms of an emotional impact, nothing this year has been as effective. I cried and laughed and cried so many times that I lost count. Go see it and revel in Jim Cummings.