Go West 2023 movie review

Amidst the same weekend and nestled between two high-profile summer blockbusters, a new film emerged titled “Go West.” This movie, in stark contrast, exudes a less glamorous aura (with a character even grappling with dysentery) and operates on a notably lower budget, akin to that of a microbudget indie production.

However, the creators of the film urge viewers not to dismiss it hastily. There are compelling reasons to give it a chance, they affirm. To begin with, the movie boasts the narration skills of Sean Astin, adored for his portrayal of Sam in “The Lord of the Rings.” Moreover, the core ensemble of 10 individuals brings to life what they affectionately dub the “Monty Python of the Oregon Trail” concept: the original members of “Studio C,” BYUtv’s sketch comedy show.

Just a week prior to the film’s release, which premiered in Utah theaters on July 19 and is set to hit screens in Arizona and Idaho on August 4 before a national rollout, four of the initial “Studio C” cast convened for a Zoom call with the Deseret News. The air was thick with eager anticipation; releasing a movie was a goal that predates their involvement with “Studio C.” However, a sense of trepidation also lingered. This was uncharted territory for them.

While “Go West” adeptly leverages their comedic talents and remains true to the family-friendly comedic ethos of “Studio C” and their own venture, JK! Studios, it simultaneously represents an experiment. The aim is to transform their collaborative efforts spanning over a decade into a fully-fledged cinematic endeavor.

“Throwing our hat in the ring in a month like this is both exhilarating and somewhat nerve-wracking. You’re unsure if it will be beneficial, detrimental, or somewhere in between,” remarked Natalie Madsen. “But we genuinely hope that as people embrace the movie mood, seeking respite from the heat in an air-conditioned space, they’ll catch our preview before watching ‘Mission: Impossible’ or any other film and think, ‘Let’s bring the whole family.'”

Unveiling ‘Go West’: A Pioneer-Flavored ‘Studio C’ The premise of the film is straightforward: Two sisters embark on a westward journey from Independence, Missouri, to reunite with family. Aveline Jenkins (Madsen) carries a tragic aura, seemingly casting misfortune upon every man she loves. Her sister Cora Jenkins (Mallory Everton) harbors, as Astin narrates, an erratic relationship with dysentery.

Their journey unfolds with encounters with a host of eccentric characters, including Capt. Evander Lillianquist (Matt Meese), who optimistically declares at the film’s outset, “I have no doubt we shall reach Oregon Territory before the first frost slaughters us all!”

“Go West” showcases the 10 original members of “Studio C” portraying multiple characters within a span of roughly 80 minutes. Yet, the actors emphasize that fans won’t discover overt references to their BYUtv days—no Shoulder Angel or allusions to lobster bisque.

“No one gets smacked in the face with a soccer ball,” Meese quipped, alluding to “Top Soccer Shootout Ever with Scott Sterling,” the show’s immensely successful comedy sketch that propelled BYUtv to prominence and has garnered 90 million views on YouTube to date. “There’s nothing as on-the-nose as that. However, I believe… those who have enjoyed our work and are seeking more of the same will find it in this movie.”

Additionally, they’ve crafted new characters they aspire will be as cherished as those from their “Studio C” era. Among them, Whitney Call’s portrayal of Robert Failure Gladstone, a store owner akin to a 19th-century “Boy Named Sue,” shines as a highlight.

“Go West” adroitly interweaves modern references into its pioneer-era narrative. The theme song, performed by Jeremy Warner (who also composed the score), is the Village People’s “Go West.” Moreover, one character, Kit Carson (Jason Gray), emerges as the Oregon Trail’s counterpart to Chuck Norris.

Each cast member independently devised characters and sketches rooted in the Oregon Trail theme. They convened weekly over the span of several months to refine these narratives, fine-tuning lines and adding jokes. “We collectively bring it to 100%, which has always been our process,” Madsen elucidated.