July 11, 2022

SCREEN | John Cho Hits the Road – 'Don't Make Me Go'

"You're not going to like the way this story ends."
John Cho Mia Isaac Hannah Marks | Don't Make Me Go | Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Studios / Big Beach
Actress turned filmmaker Hannah Marks directs the bittersweet father/daughter road trip dramedy, Don't Make Me Go. Starring John Cho as a terminally ill single father of a teenage daughter, the tearjerker does its best to explore complicated personal relationships through long-held family secrets.

Mia Isaac co-stars as Cho's fifteen-year-old daughter and the pair have a natural, easy chemistry that anchors the emotional journey of their characters. Marks' assured direction frames her actors with a clear reverence. Scenes of naturalistic banter between a headstrong teen looking to define herself arguing with a charming yet overprotective father are the easiest to sit through.

Scripted by television writer Vera Herbert, the story mostly holds a breezy feel before a final reveal that undoes some of the earnestness of the rest of the film. Filmed in New Zealand standing in for a cross-country U.S.A. tour from California to Louisiana, Don't Make Me Go often concerns itself too much with various side stories and long-distance relationships outside of Cho and Isaac's core narrative.

There's a struggle combining so many different elements of a cancer story, reunion movie, road trip comedy, and romantic family drama yet Marks focuses on the heartfelt emotions of her two central characters. Cho and Isaac are able to overcome some of the usual story contrivances and tropes of the film genres it's mining. Still, the ride mostly feels worth the journey.

Don't Make Me Go will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting July 15th.

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