I want to start off this review of Don’t Make Me Go with the following statement: I love John Cho. He is an underrated actor and I want to see him in more leading roles. He always delivers, whether it’s Sulu in Star Trek or Harold in the Harold & Kumar franchise. He’s also done some great TV work as well; he was actually the first Asian-American actor to be the lead in a romantic comedy in the underrated My Fair Lady update, Selfie. All of this great work has led to Don’t Make Me Go, which is a good movie with great lead performances.
The premise of the film is familiar and has been seen in many different films before. Max Park (Cho) is given a terminal illness diagnosis with two options: a risky surgery or one year to live. This is a lot for anyone to take in, especially a single father to a teenage daughter, played by newcomer Mia Isaac. Max is an overprotective father and only wants what’s best for his daughter Wally, which I can absolutely relate to as a parent. He decides to take his daughter on a cross country road trip to reunite with her mother in the event of his death.
The film is at its absolute best when focused on Mark and Wally. John Cho and Mia Isaac play a wonderful father/daughter duo and have great chemistry together. Wally is your classic teenage girl who wants to explore the world, date boys, and have more freedom, the opposite of how Mark is. Cho gives a great performance in this film; he injects humor into Mark when needed but also gives the dramatic moments the weight they need. Isaac gives a great performance as well, especially during the dramatic moments.
There are a few familiar faces in the supporting cast as well. Kaya Scodelario (Maze Runner franchise) plays Mark’s love interest Annie and has great chemistry with John Cho as well. We also get Jemaine Clement (What We Do In the Shadows) for a brief scene in an antagonistic role at Mark’s college reunion, along with his old college friend Guy, played by Josh Thompson. There are other supporting characters that are friends/acquaintances of Wally, but we don’t get a lot of time to connect with them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the main focus of the film is Mark and Wally and their journey together.
Overall, I enjoyed this film mostly due to the performances of John Cho and Mia Isaac; they are the main reason to watch this film. The film itself was directed very well by young actor turned director Hannah Marks, whose next project is the John Green film adaptation of Turtles All The Way Down. It takes a twist with the story that I did not expect and gave the ending more emotional weight than I had anticipated.
I would suggest giving the film a watch on Prime Video when you have a chance because you will certainly get something out of it, especially if you’re a parent like me. Plus, you get to hear John Cho sing karaoke; that alone makes it worth the watch in the end!