Two friends are cycling up a hill in the beautiful foothills of France. Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) talks of pedaling cadence; Kyle (Kyle Marvin) thanks him for getting his out-of-shape body on the bike. Kyle talks about his upcoming wedding when Mike drops a bomb that he has slept with Kyle’s fiancée . . . recently. Thus begins the story of a friendship that has its ups and downs, a journey that will follow these two men through thick and thin and ultimately, maturity.
“The Climb” is a quirky, off-center comedy divided into seven engaging chapters that hold giggles, uneasy laughs and guffaws.
Mike is self-centered and disguises this with direct, sensible comments that are too blunt. Kyle is the exact opposite, always thinking of others before himself. As these two high school friends stagger through life, audiences are treated to a slow train wreck that somehow has no fatalities. Mike ends up marrying Kyle’s ex-fiancée, to Kyle’s chagrin, of course. When fate deals a pivotal blow to Mike, Kyle once again assumes the role of friend and the saga continues.
Writer/Director Michael Angelo Corvino creates a memorable film by making ordinary characters interesting. He does this by mixing their flaws alongside comical dialogue and situations. When Mike admits his impropriety to Kyle, Kyle begins to yell and chase him on the bike, while Mike apologizes. Mike then gets in a shouting match that results in a wrestling match with a driver on the road – a funny moment that also ends their animosity toward one another.
Corvino also shoots this film in small vignettes that create bite-sized moments of laughter and poignancy that reveal humanity at both its best and worst. Corvino’s directing style also offers viewers beautifully framed shots and warm, engaging settings that help tag emotions to the scene, guiding us into his entertaining fantasy.
Corvino and Marvin both give honest acting performances, laying bare their character’s flaws and troubles as well as their strengths to endear audiences to these struggling men. It is easy to see ourselves within these characters, furthering our interest in their story.
“The Climb’s” title is also a call to viewers to take a chance on this small film, to climb out of your COVID-19/post-election funk and take a chance on this worthwhile film – it will help restore your emotional cadence.
A bromance through the adult years of high school buddies is one of the quirkiest films of the year. As “The Climb” progresses with vignettes of these grown men, either at odds or in “I love you man’ mode, we experience ups and downs that I can only describe as “shaking my head.”
Boundaries are tested in most unusual ways and involve major life events, but it’s all in a relaxed, realistic, no-frills way.
Acting as themselves, Kyle Marvin and Michael Angelo Covino play their real-life friendship for laughs, and what they’ve created for a fictional narrative is complicated.
They may love each other but they don’t always like each other – and for good reason. You know that phrase with ‘with friends like these…” – you wonder why they reconnect, but they do, and bad choices rule both their lives.
This film defies any expectations, with its jaw-dropping plot points and laugh-out-loud moments. Not knowing what’s true and what’s embellished, the twists are surprising as this strange trip plays out – filled with family snapshots, girlfriends and wives – as they come together over the years after betrayals.
They are also the creative team behind this micro-budget film that started as a short and then wound up winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Coup de Coeur, in May 2019.
Covino is the director, co-writer and star with his BFF Marvin. It’s been on the festival circuit, including Sundance 2020, and has finally been theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics.
The cinematography by Zach Kuperstein stands out, from the bicycle ride in France to a ski trip to pulling away from a family homestead during a yuletide rivalling the Griswolds. His choices help the movie flow.
Because of their long relationship, Covino and Marvin project the unguarded closeness of two guys who’ve been there for each other. So, the dialogue rings true, and their delivery adds to the laughs.
The supporting cast includes Kyle’s all-American family, and what better way to showcase the characters’ idiosyncrasies but have them gather at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Suzi, the mom, is played by Talia Balsam, while Jim, the dad is George Wendt.
The observational humor is one of the most appealing qualities, as are these random musical interludes that signal a chapter closes.
“The Climb” is not your typical buddy movie but its focus on how people connect through their lives is relatable, providing surprising humor in the guys’ darkest days.