I Watched TREK So You Don't Have To And Please Don't
My copy of Trek The Movie, an actual DVD I had to buy because the film is not available in digital download format on any streaming service, came with a sticker attached to the cover:
There is no possible way these Fandango reviews were written by anyone other than the director's mother or someone who was paid a large sum of money. The movie is neither hilarious, simply wonderful, nor heartwarming, and I would know. I've watched it thrice in service of this writeup.
A writeup I'm doing because I'm a Mormon, and I was told Trek The Movie was a Mormon thing by the DVD cover:
I'm here to report if this movie is, in fact, a Mormon thing, then we as a people need to have a long talk about what our things are and Marie Kondo the shiz out of our stuff. Because this Mormon thing is bad. Real bad.
It starts with Tom, our tale's protagonist, on the morning of trek telling his grandma he hopes to serve a mission in Brazil because they have nude beaches there. He says this while wearing a shirt that says "I don't give a" and features a drawing of a rat hauling a donkey. Rat's ass.
So we know Tom is very edgy. And there's no way an edgy guy like Tom is going on trek willingly, unless he's bribed with a ski pass.
A bribe his dad, who is concerned about his edgy son with sweary shirts, makes after "It's a campout with girls!" doesn't play the way he thought it would.
Elsewhere in the ward, siblings argue over appropriate trek food.
The brother Sterling's shirt reads, “I’m not lazy, I just really enjoy doing nothing.” Most of the character development in this film relies on tee-shirt wording.
On the the drive to the chapel, Sterling speeds past the minivan of an adult leader, inexplicably causing her trunk to pop open, releasing a bunch of oranges that roll down a hill.
“Oh my freaking heck!” the leader exclaims.
Get it? It's a Mormon thing.
At the stake center, a couple of buccaneers roll up and announce themselves to be the trail bosses. Turns out if you just tell people you're a trail boss, they'll believe you. So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pursue a new career.
Some lady wearing a full Sephora store for a three day hike shows up,
as does the poor man's Crocodile Dundee.
These are the trek leaders, in addition to Brother Pratt, the medic and the guy in charge.
The youth start to roll in. A couple of lovebirds whose names we never learn,
and a pair of Samoan brothers who do not adhere to the dress code and do not speak.
I'm not sure if this portrayal is as offensive as I'm guessing it is, but I mean, if you have to ask, then probably yeah.
And speaking of vague racism, Mike with the camera spends his first few lines calling other people "gringo" and "muchacho" and then drops it the rest of the movie.
Also, Mike with the camera wants to ask out this girl:
whose name I maybe knew at one point but cannot remember now which is sad considering I watched this movie less than twelve hours ago. She has a cousin who is visiting, and this cousin must be out of her mind, because she decides to join a pioneer reenactment and spend three days pooping in the woods instead of going to 7 Peaks or Trafalga or literally anywhere else along the Wasatch front.
But maybe she knew she'd meet a troubled young man with horrendous taste in tees but good hair and a sexy smile. In which case she made the right call, because Tom is very cute.
Brother Pratt corrals the youth and announces the groups, or "families" that will be trekking together.
But before they can take off, the leaders need to inspect the youths' belongings for contraband junk food. It's a drawn out Heavy Weights ripoff that fat shames young actors who I'm sure were not paid enough to be in this film.
Oh, and no electronics allowed. Meaning, hand over your pink hairdryers, womenfolk! Your silly women brains forgot there are no outlets in the wilderness.
Small Blond reacts to the hairdryer confiscation by yelling, "Hashtag Satan’s plan!" Get it? It’s a Mormon thing.
For some unexplained reason, Sterling's sister brought a doll to trek, and Sterling convinces her to let him hide a Hershey Bar in the doll's head. In exchange she gets to drive his car whenever she wants.
No one seems concerned that Sterling is exhibiting the behavior of a severe addict and has probably stored cocaine in the Hershey wrapper.
Now hairdryer-less Small Blond is caught making out with tall guy in the middle of a very conspicuous field.
Because, if this isn't already clear, the screenwriters think very little of their characters.
After what feels like seven hours, the crew is finally ready to trek their freaking trek. But first, they pray. It's a Mormon thing.
But not an Edgy Tom thing. The leaders made him change out of his rat's ass tee. BUT THEY CAN NEVER MAKE HIM CLOSE HIS EYES OR REMOVE HIS HAT.
During the prayer, we get a flash back to what appears to be a happier, more board-shorty time in Tom's life. He's even the one saying the prayer prior to a river rafting excursion (eyes closed).
And then he's chilling with his homie, who is conspicuously missing from trek, and so most likely dead.
Back in present time, the youth and leaders have a pleasant and quick drive to the trailhead. This is very different from my own experience traveling to trek wherein I rode in a school bus for five hours with 70 of my peers. It was during those five hours I learned just how stupid teenage boys actually can be. One kid took a piece of soggy ham from his Lunchable and threw it at the bus window. It sat stationary on the window for a minute, then slowly began to slide down the glass, leaving a trail of slime in its path. I stared at that slime trail for the whole rest of the ride. It's probably still there.
Around hour two, my neighbor Cliff fell asleep with his mouth open. So someone poured an entire bag of M&Ms into the gaping hole. Astoundingly, Cliff survived.
Once we arrived in Wyoming, two boys from my ward started punching each other. No one knew why. The drive probably drove them to insanity.
But the movie group looks no worse for wear and free of ham slime, chocolate drool, and black eyes.
Pirate Lady lays out the rules of the trail: follow the cow skulls, no fires, and don’t leave trash behind. They should have violated that last one and dropped this script somewhere along the way. Yeah, I SAID IT.
Then, they're off.
Tom and Cute Cousin are made the Ma and Pa of their group, and given this major step in their relationship, she feels it's time to reveal that she's not a Mormon. She's a nomo. Not a momo. It's a Mormon thing.
Tom, because he's edgy, is INTO IT, and starts monologuing about how everyone in his family is so busy going to church that they don't see what's really happening. He doesn't elaborate on what's really happening. It's confusing. What's even more confusing is the next flashback, wherein Dead Friend, in what can only be a marijuana-fueled moment of introspection, says that the cool thing about fire is it makes everything else disappear. One of the other, less high boys counters that actually, fire makes you very visible.
"Yeah, it's like you're alone, but not," says Dead Friend. And it's like, thanks for that stunning insight, Plato.
During trek lunch break, a girl named Susan, a character name for sure concocted by a baby boomer who has never talked with an actual i-genner, tests her blood glucose levels. I don't need to tell you that this is foreshadowing of near tragedy to come.
But I will anyway: this is foreshadowing of near tragedy to come.
Mucacho Mike pines for Gingham Dress girl, and Freaking Heck leader notices. She urges him to ask her out.
“Any girl here would be thrilled to go out with you. Any of them,” Freaking Heck leader says, and there's a definite Mrs. Robinson vibe to the interaction.
Romance is in the air as Crocodile Dundee offers Covergirl a second orange for lunch. She accepts and they get to talking about church. He's a new convert. 473 days. And in it to win it.
I guess it's a Mormon thing? Poking fun at new converts and their dedication feels like a weird move, but this film is full of choices I don't understand, like this closeup of ants eating bread:
and this scene, a conversation between two people, shot from this distance THE ENTIRE TIME.
I have no idea who these two characters are, or why this scene exists at all, given their conversation is about whether or not the prophet sees movies and in no way furthers a plot that is in dire need of being furthered. If I had to guess, the two actors saw the final cut and demanded their faces be removed out of embarrassment.
Sterling's sister is told that her doll, which represents a pioneer toddler, has died and must be buried.
Which means Sterling's chocolate/drugs are going in the hole as well.
It's meant to be funny but the doll is the only likable character in this mess and watching her be buried is the closest I came to feeling human emotion in the entire one hour and forty minute runtime.
Before dinner it's time for another prayer, and therefore another chance to watch Tom brood.
Tom sits to slurp soup with Sterling and Mike, who ask Tom how things are going with Cute Cousin. Tom concedes that she is cool, and shares that she's a nomo. To which Sterling replies that might complicate a potential relationship, given Tom's very active family.
“Not everyone is trying to turn themselves into some latter-day droid, Sterling," Tom yells, and if I knew how to make that line my ringtone, I would do it.
Pink Gingham asks Cute Cousin what's up with her and Tom, and when Cute Cousin hints that she might be a Tom fan, Pink Gingham says Tom is a great guy, but you know, last summer there was an accident and Tom's friend was killed.
How this affects his good guy status is not explained.
The next morning Maybeline perfects her Instagram brow
before smugly walking past a couple of teen girls. Maybe she's born with it, maybe she's a jerk.
But joke's on her. Loreal leaves her cosmetics kit on the ground and some rando boy picks it up. He's always wanted to try contouring, I guess. But good luck to him without at least nine YouTube tutorials walking him through proper blending techniques.
During yet another sit and talk session, Brother Pratt tells the kids they will all have hard things in their life. It seems getting to their destination will be one of those hard things considering how little time they spend trekking on this trek.
Tom walks away in a huff,
and Cute Cousin follows him. Tom's already had hard times, he tells Cute Cousin, in another wide shot with no faces:
Cut to Susan the diabetic collapsing on the ground:
and a rush to get her some juice. GET SHELBY SOME JUICE!
Susan is fine but Tom has a cow.
“This is stupid!” he says in a real demonstration of the screenwriter's prowess. Then Tom announces he is quitting trek. But then he changes his mind. Because of a flashback. About being brave or something.
Tom apologizes to his peers,
and then the group heads to the hoe-down, which once again is much different than the trek hoe-down I experienced in 2003. I was one of the fiddlers and spent the entire dance watching mosquitos the size of my hand hover over my repellent-covered skin, unable to swat them away for fear of missing a note.
A couple of dum-dums in my stake got busted for starting a fire under a bridge that night. In August. In a dry Wyoming field. Teenagers really shouldn't be allowed out of their homes ever.
Back in the movie, Sterling approaches the Samoan brothers, each holding a tiki torch for obvious (racist) reasons, and inquires about obtaining snacks.
He ultimately trades his watch for two Twinkies, and again, this is not normal behavior and someone should stage an intervention.
Tom and Cute Cousin share a slow dance, and she confides that her parents are getting a divorce, thus her summer spent away from home. She's broken. He's broken. In the land of Trek The Movie, they, the only two broken people, are perfect for each other.
The next day Susan has another diabetic episode, and it's determined she needs to go home.
Brother Pratt leaves Tom in charge. Tom spots a nearby body of water and tells the group to hop in.
Meanwhile, Pirate Lady clears all the cow skulls from the trail, assuming the last group already walked by.
But the last group is actually lazing about, unconcerned night is approaching and they should get going.
Once they do get a move on, there are no cow skulls to mark the path and it's not long before these yahoos are completely lost.
They can't agree on the best way to get unlost, and somehow after an altercation, Lehi, YES LEHI, ends up getting run over by the handcart and having his leg split open.
Tom fears he's lost a second friend to a tragic accident, and a flashback reveals the moment when Dead Friend, after jumping in the river to save another boy, is dragged on shore and his father, Brother Pratt, is unable to resuscitate him.
It would be a traumatic scene had I been given the chance to connect with Dead Friend at all, but I've only heard him talk idiotically about the visibility of fire, and his tee-shirt doesn't have any words to tell me what he's like, so this sequence does nothing. And you guys, I'm six months pregnant. It is not hard to stir my emotions. So far this pregnancy I've cried during multiple episodes of Seinfeld and at least one dog food commercial. Dead Friend's death though? Nary a moist tear duct. I'm almost happy for him because now he doesn't have to go on trek.
Brother Pratt returns to camp and is the only person to notice Tom's group is missing. Because the leadership on this excursion is a smorgasbord of incompetency. So Brother Pratt hops in his truck and goes looking for the lost crew.
Small Blond asks Tom if they should maybe pray about what to do next, and Tom is like okay fine.
Lehi says he wants Tom to say the prayer,
and you can't argue with the guy with a giant gash in his leg who might bleed to death, so Tom reluctantly agrees.
During his prayer Tom is struck with a realization.
“We need to be...seen!” he declares. The fact that it took a prayer to come to this conclusion is worrying on multiple levels.
Down the mountain Brother Pratt is offering the 117th on-screen prayer, pleading with God to help him find the lost kids.
The lost kids grab the hair spray from Revlon's stolen cosmetics kit,
spray the handcart, then torch the sucker.
So by the time Brother Pratt has finished praying, he sees the light of the fire. Dead Friend really did not understand fire visibility, like at all, as it turns out.
The youths watch their handcart burn, and Small Blond decides this movie is not heavy-handed enough already. So she starts singing "The Spirit of God."
Mercifully, half a verse in, Brother Pratt pulls up and the teens, and we, are rescued.
Good news, Tom is cured of his edginess now. One prayer is all it took!
IF I MAY: There is much to be said for spirituality and the healing power of a spiritual experience, be it in a conventional religious setting or a more abstract interpretation of spirit. HOWEVER, it is clear Tom is hurting a good deal after the loss of his beloved friend, and while I'm no expert in matters of mental health, I know enough to recognize when someone needs professional help, and see that Tom could benefit immensely from seeing a counselor to help him process his grief. His family, friends, leaders, and the makers of this film have failed him and any viewer who might be going through something tough by implying doubt after tragedy is a character flaw to be remedied by a weekend wearing a bonnet or straw hat in the mountains.
Alright I'm done.
Tom shares a tearful embrace with Brother Pratt.
And then the crew heads to camp for a turkey dinner. It's during this dinner we learn Mike, instead of asking Pink Gingham to the 21 Pilots concert, a middle of the road band selected for the script by an old guy after he googled "kids listening to these days," like he had planned, and like everyone around him had been urging him to do, chickens out and asks another girl instead.
This development is just another in a long list of ways this movie is a complete waste of its viewers' time. I hate it so much.
Nine hours later the whole group finally heads home, and at the stake center a now righteous and smiling Tom and Brother Pratt share a handshake. Brother Pratt tells Tom to come over and visit because his wife would love to see him.
New convert Crocodile Dundee asks out Lancome,
and they start making out ferociously. Up to this point they've had all of one conversation.
He calls her a "tender creature.” Have I told you how much I hate this movie?
Cute Cousin and Tom say what he thinks will be their final goodbye,
but she coyly hints she might see him this coming fall. Because that college she's going to? It's BYU. This makes no sense. She's a a nomo. Why would she go to BYU? WHY IS THIS MOVIE SO TERRIBLE?
You know what I did when my real life trek was finished? I went to the bathroom and peed blood from dehydration. So.
There's one thing the movie and my real trek experience have in common: at their conclusions all I wanted to do was drink hard alcohol and forget any of it ever happened. But I didn't then or now. It's a Mormon thing.
(Design: Josh Fowlke) (Editor: Rachel Swan)