Joe Carnahan has had a rough go of it in Hollywood. The man who made cult classic “Narc” and cult curio “Smokin’ Aces” has seen a number of potential projects fall through the cracks or fall to better yes men in recent years, and now his latest wacky labor of love is stuck toiling in the crowded spaces of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Not exactly a studio seal of approval, at least not yet.
“Stretch” doesn’t buck the trend of DTV cinema, often reveling in one too many directorial quirks and none too many likable characters, but Carnahan’s carnival barker style is a breathe of fresh air. Patrick Wilson is an L.A. limo driver and aspiring actor desperate for money after his debtors up the stakes. As the obligatory theme of fate would have it, an eccentric billionaire falls right into his lap, or rather, on top of his limo. Descending naked from a parachute with a scraggly beard, face paint, and coke cravings, Chris Pine is Karos, an endearingly unscrupulous asshole who agrees to pay Stretch six kilos if he’ll retrieve a mysterious briefcase and more cocaine for him in the span of 100 minutes, all while Karos himself parties hard and weird at a fetishistic sex club. That’s where the fun starts for Stretch, a down-on-his-luck schmuck who discovers he thrives in chaos as he dodges bullets, car accidents, and douchey Hollywood celebrities.
Peppered with cameos, some brilliant (Ed Helms as the ghost of a suicidal limo driver), others befuddling (Randy Couture as a white-haired, cowboy-hatted rival chauffeur, Jessica Alba as a frumpy receptionist), “Stretch” is a blast, but like a small child it frantically tries to hold your wavering attention, sometimes to the point of accomplishing the opposite.