Film Review: Sherman's Way

A road trip taken through California wine country by two disparate types -- one supremely laid back and the other hopelessly uptight -- with one of them changed for the better by meeting a gorgeous, free-spirited blonde. No, it's not "Sideways," unfortunately, but rather "Sherman's Way," a new indie comedy-drama whose familiarity extends far beyond that comparison.

Tom Nance's screenplay manages not to leave a cliched stone unturned in its depiction of the life-changing encounter between Sherman (Michael Shulman, who also produced), a repressed Ivy League preppie, and Palmer (James LeGros), a former Olympic skier who has fallen on hard times.

After being dumped by his girlfriend (Lacey Chabert), Sherman winds up stranded on the West Coast and reluctantly accepts an offer of a ride from the affable Palmer so he can get to an important job interview at a Los Angeles law firm. The predictable wacky complications ensue, with Sherman finding his natural stuffiness slowly deflated by the shaggy Palmer's relaxed attitude toward life and by his encounters with an eccentric former chef (Enrico Colantoni) and especially the gorgeous Addy (Brooke Nevin), who, fortunately for Sherman and the male viewers, has a fondness for skinny-dipping.

LeGros manages to infuse his characterization with the necessary charm, but Shulman never quite manages to make the annoying Sherman endearing enough to make us root for his eventual transformation. The film simply has too many tiredly predictable elements for its own good, and despite the handsome cinematography of the extremely picturesque California locations, "Sherman's" never really finds its way.

Opened: Friday, March 6 (International Film Circuit)
Production: Starry Night Entertainment
Cast: James LeGros, Michael Shulman, Enrico Colantoni, Brooke Nevin, Donna Murphy, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Lacey Chabert
Director: Craig Saavedra
Screenwriter: Tom Nance
Producers: Craig Saavedra, Michael Shulman, Tom Nance
Director of photography: Joaquin Sedillo
Editor: Christopher Gay
Music: David Michael Frank
Production designer: Laurent Turlure
No rating, 97 minutes