Review: Road-trip drama ‘American Dresser’ is no easy ride for ‘Platoon’ vets Tom Berenger and Keith David

Tom Berenger in the film "American Dresser."

Neither about a piece of furniture nor a backstage theater person, “American Dresser” refers to the motorcycle Tom Berenger’s widower takes on a life-affirming, Long Island-to-Oregon road trip in this draggy drama.

Coping poorly with the death of his wife, Sandra (Gina Gershon in flashbacks), crusty Vietnam vet John Moore (Berenger) opts to let the undisclosed contents of a letter found in a record-album sleeve to provide healing direction as he takes to his trusty touring bike along with old war buddy, Charlie (Keith David).

For the record:

7:30 a.m. Sept. 20, 2018An earlier version of this review mistakenly stated that the motorcycles used in the film came from the collection of musician Billy Joel.

Making like a pair of wheezy riders, the guys soon add a third to their cross-country trek — a quiet stranger with a secret past (stiffly played by the film’s writer-director, Carmine Cangialosi), as they cross paths with various characters played by Bruce Dern, Penelope Ann Miller and Jeff Fahey.

While it’s nice to see so many familiar faces, one wished it would have been in a more competent piece of filmmaking. Riddled with as many plot holes as those highways and byways have potholes, the heavy-handed writing and direction, with its awkward close-ups and purposeful, sustained takes does its cast few favors.



‘American Dresser’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Starts Sept. 21, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD