Everyone who watches a lot of movies knew that when the world went on lockdown in 2020 because of COVID-19, movies would be impacted. Wes Schlagenhauf Is Dying (2022) is one of many movies that showcase the lockdown and the impact of the virus – but it may be the first to do it as a source of comedy. This bromance road trip movie was quite entertaining and managed to find a line that never felt disrespectful to the millions of lives lost to the virus while still dealing with it.
Dev (Devin Das) and Parker (Parker Seaman) are aspiring filmmakers who find themselves stuck making commercials instead. Their friend and former roommate, Wes (Wes Schlagenhauf) – who went back home to Idaho before the pandemic starts – calls Dev and Parker to let them know that he has caught COVID. This sparks an idea for an escape from their own lockdown, and a chance to make a movie. Dev and Parker gather equipment and a van and plan to document their drive to see their friend who is sick with COVID.
Dev and Parker have great chemistry, which makes them almost instantly fun to watch on screen. There are plenty of laughs in the film, and most of them just come from conversations with the two guys. For this film teacher, I loved seeing them bring Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat into the story – especially when it leads to the fun and games montage in the film. There are a number of meta elements of humor, but it’s important to note that we are not watching the documentary they made. We are watching a narrative film about two filmmakers trying to make a documentary, and I think this format is far more enjoyable than if this had played out like the Blair Witch Project.
COVID-19 and the feeling of being trapped during the lockdown may not be a topic everyone is comfortable laughing at. It is hard to believe that it’s already been two years since it all began, but much has happened since the world first went into quarantine. This film does a great job of walking the line of darker humor and hitting empathetic notes that make the experience a pretty positive one overall.
I really enjoyed Wes Schlagenhauf is Dying (2022). There are many nods to filmmaking that film nerds like myself will really appreciate. However, if you’re not versed in the world of Indie movies, the central relationship between Dev and Parker should still be endearing enough to ensure you have a good time. I like Wes, too. The movie – named after the third member of the group – earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.