“The Climb” is a buddy movie, one with an honest look at male friends over many years. It is told with a quirky style and an unusual soundtrack. The two guys are best buds from back in high school days, and nobody ever said that growing older means that you also have to grow up.
Kyle (played by Kyle Marvin) and his friend Mike (played by Michael Angelo Covino) are first shown on a biking vacation in France. Mike, who the better athlete, is telling Kyle to pace himself so that he can keep up. But Kyle is worn down from going uphill. That is the perfect time for Mike to tell his pal that he slept with Kyle’s fiancée. Because Kyle is madder than anything but he does not have the strength to catch up to his buddy. But up the road, a crazy driver causes Mike to wipe and get hurt. So all is forgiven – this time.
Mike is next seen at funeral, but it is for Mike’s wife, recently away. You know, the girl that Mike stole from Kyle earlier. Mike is lost without her and does not know what to do. But he and Kyle make a scene in front of everyone at the service. Oh, those two clowns! So Mike amps it up by getting into a fight with the cemetery workers. Mike has to learn that only union-certified workers can pick up a shovel and throw dirt on the coffin…
Years later, Kyle is ready to get engaged to Marissa (played by Gayle Rankin). It is Thanksgiving Day at Kyle’s parent’s house. Suzi (played by Talia Balsam) and Jim (played by George Wendt) are not all that fond of Marissa, but she says she wants to be with Kyle and give him all of her love. Kyle has not seen Mike in a while and he wonders how he is doing. Kyle is getting stuff done in the world, writing jingle music for sexual enhancement drugs. You go, Kyle!
Then it turns from Thanksgiving into Christmas at Kyle’s parent’s house. His parents have invited Kyle’s old friend Mike. He is not doing well now that he is on his own, and they want him to cheer up by seeing Mike again. Mike is out-of-shape and drunk as a skunk, so he does not make the best impression on Marissa. But since Kyle and Marissa are heading out to a ski vacation for New Years, Kyle invites Mike for the day. But after Mike injures his wrist, they put him up in the cabin they have rented. Mike gets the hots for Marissa, and while Kyle is passed out upstairs – Mike gets some of his old hound dog out. Kyle’s NEW fiancée is another bedpost notch for Mike.
Kyle get ‘kidnapped’ is a goofy bachelor party stunt – and they all wind up ice fishing. Mike and Kyle leave for bit to walk out on the frozen lake. Mike is down on himself, and Kyle tries to lighten up the mood. But Mike drops the ‘Fiancee Trick’ news on Kyle for a second time. Too bad Kyle can’t hear him, since the ice broke and he fell into the lake. Good thing his old pal, that two-timing back-stabber is there to fish him out. So all is forgiven – this time.
Marissa and Kyle are getting married, with the big crowd and flowers, right in front of the minister. But hey, who is that drunken guy in the back? Of course, it is Mike – and he is ready to object. Mike does not think Marissa really will love Kyle. It will be just a big show. Marissa and Mike have words. The minister says it is best to call it off for now and wait until things cool off. Plus Marissa is pregnant, and that not enough reason to get hitched, right?
Will Marissa and Kyle get married? Will Kyle and Mike be friends again? Will the bike repair store where Mike works ever get a new expresso machine in the front are? Will I ever get that sexual enhancement drug jingle out of my head? So many questions!
“The Climb” is full of honest portrayal of friendships over time, and it does not get bogged down in any complicated stories. It is not exciting or spectacular, but it gets a big dose of down-to-earth real life events. The movie is just satisfied with following around people who are vacation, and people who attend seasonal events, or funerals. Seeing how people react to getting good news, and more frequently, bad news. It is just some snippets of how these people have lived out their lives and how everything has intertwined.
It is a very interesting movie with the out-of-left-field music choices. Quite an odd mix scatted all around; a few French love ballads, or a group of cemetery working singing a gospel hymn, to a Ukrainian folk trio singing on the frozen shore. Plus there are really well done camera moves and edits. It has many long tracking shots, and some really creative transitions from one scene to another. There is a lot of talent here, on a small budget. That is quite nice to see. Michael Angelo Covino & Kyle Marvin are people to watch out for in the future.
“The Climb” is a movie that might not be destined to make it to the top of peak. But it will give you some enjoyable moments on the long road going up the hill…
Directed by: Michael Angelo Covino
Written by: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin
Starring: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Release date: November 13, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content, some nudity and brief drug use