Eliza is concerned when she discovers a love note written to her husband Louis, so she jumps into her car with parents, Jim and Rita Malone, her sister Jo, and Jo's boyfriend Carl, to confront him.
Ten minutes in, this US indie effort doesn't seem too promising just another talk-laden families-in-conflict saga. 'But it gradually cranks up the humour, unleashes a runaround plot, fleshes out the characters and transforms itself into an inventive and intriguing road movie. An eccentric bunch of characters pile into the family stationwagon on a mission to unmask the mysterious Sandy who has written a love letter to Louis D'Amico (Tucci), hubby of Eliza (Davis).
Scouring Louis' office for clues, Eliza's nearest and dearest stake out an address captured in some snapshots only to see Louis jump into a cab with a female companion. During the ensuing pursuit, Eliza, her parents (Meara and Pat McNamara), sister Jo (Parker Posey) and Jo's boyfriend. Carl (Liev Schreiber), bicker, vent their neuroses and debate culture, class and morality. Carl also gobsmacks them with the plot of his unpublished novel about a man with the head of a dog.
Pretentious book parties and comical encounters with total strangers (most notably a neat cameo from Campbell Scott as a suave, overly flirty writer) waylay them, while being cooped up together on such a highly charged journey unravels Carl and Jo's relationship. Eventually Eliza catches up with Louis in an unexpected, compromising clinch. First-time writer/director Greg Mottola has a good dig at the pretensions of New York's literary elite and there's an appealing spontaneity about the way the film is shot. The dialogue is spiky, funny and intelligent, Meara is marvellously intrusive as Eliza's drama queen of a meddling suburban mum, and the quirky quest itself maintains the momentum at a sprint. The plot resolution is a touch unsatisfying but overall.
The Daytrippers is an assured debut which engages the brain as well as tweaking the laughter lines.