Review: Road trip hits speed bumps in ‘Leisure Seeker’

Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland play a couple whose RV trip hits a detour in this clumsy comedic drama

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland pack their bags and head off on a road trip to nowhere in “The Leisure Seeker,” a misfired comedic-drama about the pains of growing old.

“The Leisure Seeker” stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren.

Mirren and Sutherland play Ella and John Spencer, a long-married couple in Wellesley, Masschusetts.; at 82, Sutherland has a full decade on Mirren, proving the old cliché about the Hollywood age gap holds true no matter the generation. The couple gasses up their RV and heads to Key West to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway, one of those trips they’ve always meant to go on but never got around to taking. So off they go, without bothering to tell their two grown children.

John is suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, though his dementia comes and goes. Ella tries to be as understanding as she can, but inevitably grows frustrated with him. “It’s so nice when you forget to be forgetful,” she tells him.

There are some tender, honest moments between Ella and John, but “The Leisure Seeker” takes too many detours along its journey. There’s a predictable run-in with a highway patrolman, and an unlikely encounter with a pair of idiot criminals. A side trip to a retirement home all but derails the film’s credibility. The script seems unsure what to make of the Spencer children, and cuts them off as soon as they threaten to become more than side characters. And then there’s a stop at a Donald Trump rally (the film takes place in August 2016, updating the action of the 2009 novel) because, why, exactly? It’s never clear.

No one wants to grow old, and “The Leisure Seeker” deserves credit for tackling a difficult subject. Unfortunately it comes packaged in a clumsy road movie headed the wrong way down the highway.


(313) 222-2284


‘The Leisure



Rated R for some sexual material

Running time: 112 minutes