Actor Jake Johnson who is most noted for his hit series New Girl has been making a name for himself outside of the series as well with films like Let’s Be Cops, Safety Not Guaranteed and the blockbuster hit Jurassic World. His latest takes him back to a smaller film with Digging For Fire that features a great cast including Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Elliott, Orlando Bloom, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Judith Light, Ron Livingston, Sam Rockwell, and Jenny Slate with Johnson also serving as writer on the film. Could this be another great entry into his filmography or should it be buried for good?
Digging For Fire follows the discovery of a bone and a gun sends a husband and wife on separate adventures over the course of a weekend. This is one of those movies that feels more like you are watching a group of people in their lives than a scripted film. There is no action or overly complicated twists and turns, but instead just an interested character study in a unique way. There is a main theme of the film focusing on the found gun and bone that sends Johnson on this obsessive journey, but it is actually a secondary nature to the real story they are telling. This story is really about two people that are just needing something more in their life or so they think. With the hunt to solve the mystery of the bone and gun Johnson is given focus on what he hopes to be a big find while actually finding out more about himself and what he has. DeWitt could care less about the mystery and instead shifts her focus in another direction that pits her in a situation that will also force her to question everything. While this could have all built up to an over dramatic final act it is actually quite mellow and treats the audience as though they are just getting to peek in on these everyday people and their lives. The simplicity of this story is given the depth it needs thanks to the great cast with Johnson and DeWitt carrying it all, but the rest of the cast have their purpose and all deliver.
There is something about seeing Elliott and Light as parents that just lightens up the room and adds the perfect elevation a film like this needed without overshadowing the purpose of it all. This is a simple film with depth you might not expect and executed to perfection. It will likely not work for everyone as most people need some over hyped situation to occur as opposed to real life, but those that get what they have put together here will no doubt really enjoy it.