On DVD: Bomber

Bomber is a small comedy done on a small scale, betrayed by small ideas and a lack of ambition. Although it captures memorable images of western Europe's backroads, its sitcom approach to comedy, unrelaxed performances, and unconvincing character dynamics render Bomber an inert bore.

Alistair is 83 years old and filled with a rarely-expressed regret. He has planned a trip to Germany with his wife Valerie for many years. Alistair fought in World War II as a British bomber pilot, and wishes to revisit a place he was responsible for nearly obliterating. Alistair and Valerie's son Ross, in the midst of a touchy crisis with his long-term girlfriend, is roped into driving his parents to their destination on a road trip scheduled to last only a few days. Things boil to a head when Ross's girlfriend breaks off the relationship two days into the trip. Ross blames his father, and this tense father-son dynamic then drives the rest of the picture, as we follow Alistair and Ross's mutual attempts to understand one another from opposite sides of a significant generational gap.

Bomber is peppered with credibility issues. Among them is the fact that Alistair is an 83-year-old WWII veteran with a 20-something son. Not impossible, but improbable, especially since Valerie is understood to be Alistair's wife of many years and his contemporary. Next is Ross's decision to accompany his parents to begin with. This is a conversation that writer-director Paul Cotter conveniently leaves out of his narrative. Ross's relationship with his girlfriend is on the verge of collapse. And, he doesn't appear to have any kind of strong relationship with his father. Why he agrees to risk his romantic life in service of a father he hardly converses with belies the shakiness of Cotter's conceit. Equally unconvincing and improbable is Ross's surprise - even shock - when his girlfriend breaks up with him via cell phone halfway through his roadtrip with his parents. We've seen this coming from the film's second scene, and there's no reason Ross shouldn't have been able to detect this danger. This, of course, brings things to a head between Ross and his father, with his mother standing by as a concerned but somewhat ineffectual peacekeeper.

Truly, there's not much in Bomber that feels genuine or emotional. Bomber plays out like a trumped-up Reader's Digest story calculated to evoke tastefully restrained familial turmoil that is ultimately dipped in a palatable if overly sweet coating of chocolatey resolution. These three characters don't for a second feel as though they are related by blood, or otherwise. The film's setup is sloppy and dry, which leaves the film's second half borderline meaningless, despite an effort by Cotter to access an interesting comment on mutual comprehension between generations separated by vastly differing experiences. 

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