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Stretch | Film review - Buckle up! Patrick Wilson's frazzled LA limo driver is taking us on a madcap ride

Stretch 3D Blu-ray pack shot new

This dark comedy thriller about a madcap, perilous day in the life of a Hollywood limo driver who goes by the nickname Stretch gets off to such a hectic, abrasive start that many viewers will wish to jump out immediately.

The opening could hardly be bumpier as Patrick Wilson’s failed actor turned frazzled chauffeur buttonholes us with a smart-aleck narration that proves instantly grating. Stick with him, though, and his surreal escapades turn out to be surprisingly entertaining.

It turns out that the Los Angeles limo trade is a cutthroat business, but Stretch has even more pressing concerns than swaggering rival The Jovi (Randy Couture) pinching his clients. Still smarting from a painful break-up with his gorgeous ex (Brooklyn Decker (opens in new tab)), he is also recovering from cocaine and gambling addictions and has the hallucinatory ghost of a former colleague (Ed Helms) bugging him about his many shortcomings.

Stretch - Ed Helms & Patrick Wilson

(Image credit: Daniel Mcfadden)

His most acute concern on this day, however, is the fact that he has until midnight to pay a $6,000 gambling debt or face the wrath of Mexican gangsters. His only hope, it seems, is the prospect of picking up a big tip from berserk billionaire Roger Karos, who requires ‘a driver, a confidante, a bag-man and a protector’.

Played with nutty abandon by a wildly bearded, barely recognisable (and uncredited) Chris Pine, Karos parachutes naked onto the bonnet of Stretch’s car and leads him into a series of lunatic scrapes that gain a rollicking comic momentum.  Along the way, Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff provide a pair of enjoyably self-mocking cameos, and Jessica Alba (opens in new tab) dials back the glamour to play Stretch’s loyal dispatcher.

You can see why writer-director Joe (Smokin’ Aces) Carnahan’s effort went straight to VOD instead of the cinema, the film’s intended destination, but for all its shortcomings, Stretch is one hell of a ride.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 91 mins. Director Joe Carnahan.

Stretch is released on Digital Download, DVD & Blu-ray by Universal Pictures. http://youtube.com/v/ceJa68mIDu4

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.