Youth in Oregon (2016)

  • Year: 2016
  • Released: 03 Feb 2017
  • Country: United States
  • Adwords: 1 win & 1 nomination
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • Runtime: 105 min
  • Writer: Andrew Eisen
  • Director: Joel David Moore
  • Cast: Frank Langella, Billy Crudup, Christina Applegate
  • Keywords: road trip, oregon, usa, cross country, reason for living, euthanized,
45% – Critics
47% – Audience

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Youth in Oregon Movie Reviews

A Film Primarily about Family Dynamics

Sensitive depiction of an aging and ailing family patriarch whose wish to choose when he will die brings troubled family relationships to a head. The film is deftly propelled by the tension created around whether the old man will get his wish and be euthanized in Oregon. During the cross country road trip Ray, the old guy, sees his troubled family and small pleasures with new eyes. Painful, riveting, true to life, brilliant.

drive this way

Joel David Moore’s “Youth in Oregon” is no masterpiece but is still worth seeing. To my knowledge, it’s the only movie that focuses on Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act allowing physician-assisted suicide. In this case, Frank Langella plays an elderly man who asks his family to drive him to the Beaver State so that he can take advantage of the law. Not surprisingly, tense familial issues arise.

I’d say that the movie is interesting more than anything. The elderly man and his wife travel across the country driven by their son-in-law, while the daughter stays home to keep an eye on the rebellious granddaughter. Each of the characters has something to say, but I particularly liked the old man’s talks about his adventures from his younger days.

Anyway, it’s worth seeing. Not a great movie, but an OK one.

stop yelling and just talk

Greetings again from the darkness. This is one of those tough little indie movies that would fit right in at most film festivals. Directed by Joel David Moore and written by Andrew Eisen, the film has a few exceptional scenes, yet once it’s over, it’s pretty easy to just leave it behind. That shouldn’t happen with a story dealing with a theme of death with dignity. Shouldn’t there be a desire to talk about the issue, or at least spend some time in thought?

Perhaps the reason this one isn’t the gut-punch we expect is that while the central reason for the story is 80 year old Ray’s (Frank Langella) desire to end life on his terms, the vast majority of screen time is devoted to the exceptionally dysfunctional family that surrounds him. It’s not an “issue” movie, and dysfunctional family movies are about as common as superhero movies these days … we’ve become a bit numb.

Ray and his wife Estelle (Mary Kay Place) are living with their daughter Kate (Christina Applegate), her husband Brian (Billy Crudup) and Kate and Brian’s teenage daughter Annie (Nicola Peltz). It’s a crowded house where emotions run high, voices are usually amped to 11, and Kate and Brian’s marriage is stressed to the limit with responsibilities.

Bad news at the doctor’s office leads Ray to the crucial decision on his future. He announces this while giving the most uncomfortable birthday speech ever at dinner that evening … “I want to die.” It’s a terrific scene and each person’s reaction is priceless – to the point where we almost wish it were in slow motion so as not to miss anything.

Typically poor teenage judgment by daughter Annie means mother Kate stays at home for discipline, while Brian reluctantly agrees to drive Ray cross country to Oregon to find out if he qualifies under the mercy killing law. Estelle and her always present booze come along for the ride, but it’s mostly the strained relationship between Ray and Brian that generate the fireworks. Along the way, they add Ray’s estranged gay son Danny (Josh Lucas), as well as Brian’s angry college age son Nick (Alex Shaffer). Once they reach Oregon, another wonderful scene/sequence occurs as Ray meets up with a longtime friend who has made the same decision. It’s a well handled and well acted portion of the story.

Ray’s decision to hide his medical diagnosis from the family is the source of the most recent conflict, but there’s a history in this family. Isn’t that always the case? A lack of communication often causes even more issues than too much honesty. The abundance of dysfunction can’t be offset by some peaceful bird-watching, and all of the frustration and anger prevents the necessary conversations on the more interesting topic … a reason to live vs. a desire to die. A slight re-focus would have taken more advantage of the terrific performance of Langella, and added some fun to the post movie discussion.