The road trip movie Don’t Make Me Go starring John Cho and Mia Isaac features all the classic elements of daddy-daughter films: dingy motels, shared songs, and secrets. The film’s central plot revolves around a father-daughter relationship rooted in secrecy despite its focus on closeness and bonding with its father, Max (Cho), and daughter, Wally (Isaac).
Before Wally can even learn how drastically her life was about to change, Max is keeping some life-changing information to himself. His daughter will soon be left without a parent as Max has recently discovered a tumor at the base of his brain. As she had no idea, he was taking Wally across the country to reunite her with her estranged mother so she would have a guardian when he passed away.
As a result of this setup, these characters can discover answers to many questions together: why is Wally’s mom no longer in their lives? Max would not want to share such pertinent news with his daughter considering how limited his time is. Until tragedy strikes, no one knows how the strongest people in their lives will react.
Don’t Make Me Go turns this classic road trip framework upside down as it invites audiences to reevaluate how well they know the people around them. When a single parent and a teenage daughter have a relationship, a few white lies are bound to arise, especially since Wally is only now maturing into an adult.
When Wally is fifteen years old, she is just starting to experience young love and driving, both of which are not so easy for her. Max seems caught up in his own headaches (literally and figuratively) that he only notices his wrongdoing of Wally after he has done it himself. Similarly, Wally seems to dislike her dad’s strictness a lot.
Although Max is clearly devoted to his only daughter, he is also occupied with a frustrating job and a wishy-washy booty call situation with Annie (Kaya Scodelario), which is a big distraction in this story. The doctor discovers he has a 1-year timer on his life unless he undergoes surgery that has a 20% success rate for treating his chronic, crippling headaches.
Rather than gamble with what limited time he has left with his daughter, he loads her up and takes her to a college reunion down south. A very important person on the guest list is Wally’s mother, who abandoned them both when Wally was a baby for another man.
By using duality, the story emphasizes Wally and Max’s similarities. Although they hold very different values and beliefs, they share one very important thing: they’re both about to lose the person they love most. As an example, Wally is caught sneaking out of the house and must drive the pair home due to Max’s headaches, which illustrates the congruence of limited time.
When Wally is in the driver’s seat, she has the confidence to talk about her night out and how she wants to share those sights one day with Max. He expresses a desire to tell her more, which she expresses as a wish. Throughout the film, Wally slowly learns more and more about her father, both things he kept from her and things she never asked him.
Wally has no idea that her father is terminally ill, so her curiosity isn’t motivated by pity. Their time together has solidified a genuine connection, and their mutual love and respect have grown despite their disagreements.
Wally is constantly resisting Max’s suggestion that the odds are against her, whether at the casino or discussing her post-graduation travel plans. While her father views his prognosis and life as a whole with a very pessimistic outlook, she does not.
By keeping this secret from Wally, Max can internalize the lessons she teaches him by being so confident that success awaits her. She can’t motivate him to have the life-saving but risky surgery with her unrelenting positivity. As a result, he is able to simply enjoy raising a unique, fearless daughter.
Robert Poirrer is a contributing author who covers Hollywood latest movie releases and web series for the MovieThop website. He has a decade of experience in writing movies based articles for numerous renowned media outlets. He is excellent at creating unique content based on emerging trends in a variety of categories especially entertainment, movies and lifestyle. When not writing articles you could find Robert enjoying mountain biking trips with his friends. He graduated in English Literature from North Carolina State University.