Story: This comedy is about life in our times. Amanda’s money problems lead her to “borrow” money from her boss (without permission). After gambling it away, she soon finds the mob (deadly criminals) chasing her. In desperation she turns to a rich, religious grandfather. Along the road to his favorite fishing grounds in Redemption, Montana, they encounter medical trouble, car trouble, and trouble with bees, a bear, bikers, her boyfriend and a lot more. Can her grandpa’s faith, friendship, or financial generosity really save her? This movie shows where to find the best solution to our problems. (2001; 1.5 hours; World Wide Pictures; comedy)
Note: A trip from Las Vegas, Nevada, via Flagstaff, Arizona, to Redemption, Montana, is about 1675 miles (2700 km). That would be about as far as from Kunming to Nanjing to Beijing, China, or as far as Paris, France to Berlin, Germany to Istanbul, Turkey.
Punctuation Note: Quotation marks (” “), also called quotes, normally indicate the exact words that someone said. In our Movie Study Guides, we sometimes abbreviate or slightly change quotations in order to help non-native English speakers to understand. Sometimes, quotation marks set off a word or phrase to help the reader, such as to indicate that the term is used in a colloquial or sarcastic way. (Example: Amanda “borrowed” money without asking, which really means she stole the money.) Be careful not to overuse quotes to set off words in this way.
People and proper nouns:
- Amanda (nickname: Pumpkin): secretary for Mr. Santoro
- Alan (nickname: Al): Amanda’s boyfriend, who is a university student (they have been living together for a year, but they are not married)
- Volkswagen or VW: the brand of Amanda’s car (VW is a German company, 大众 in Chinese)
- Mr. Santoro: Amanda’s boss, and the leader of a part of the mob
- Vincent: Mr. Santoro’s bodyguard
- Frank: a hit man for the mob
- Nathan Tucker: Amanda’s rich grandfather (the last time they saw each other was on a fishing trip when Amanda was a little girl)
Vocabulary:(underlined words are vocabulary terms; *key terms)
- *an advance: salary paid before the usual time (i.e., an advance is paid in advance)
- aye or aye aye: used to say yes; often associated with voting (the opposite is “nay”) or with what a sailor would say to his captain (i.e., “Yes, Sir!”)
the ayes have it (=used to say that most people in a meeting have voted in favour of something)
- bikers: people who ride motorcycles, often together in a group or gang; such gangs have the reputation of being dangerous. Bikers proudly refer to a powerful motorcycle as their “bike” and are known to spend time and money to keep it in top condition.
- *“bingo!”: an expression used to show that someone got an answer right or guessed about sth correctly
- bookie ring: a bookie is someone who helps you bet on horses, sports, etc.; a “ring” is an organized group of criminals
- *(are you) chicken?: are you afraid? (by the way, “to play chicken” refers to a stupid, dangerous 1950′s “game,” where two drivers would drive toward each other—whoever turned first (to avoid a crash), lost the game
- *condition: (1) the state sth is in (e.g., medical condition = your health; a car in mint condition); (2) something that must exist or happen first, before something else can happen. “I’ll give you the money on the condition that we first go fishing.” The slang expression “are there strings attached?” means “what are the conditions?”
- (you) drug (me here): (AmE, uncommon) past tense of “drag” (to move from one place to another with effort); technically, the past of “drag” should be “dragged”
- eight-track or eight-track tape: a tape used to play music (1970s); it was bigger than a cassette tape, and you could skip between songs instead of having to fast-forward or rewind the tape.
- *exaggerate: to make something sound bigger, worse, more, less (etc.) than it really is
- geezer: the slang expression “the old geezer” is an unkind way to refer to an older person
- gorilla: a large African ape, or a man who is very large and who looks as if he might become violent
- hit man: someone who is paid (by the mob) to kill people who don’t cooperate or submit
- *immoral: not according to accepted standards (or religious standards) of right and wrong, often specifically meaning inappropriate sexual behavior
- *ironic: unusual or amusing because it is opposite of what you expected
- magnitude: great in importance, scope, size, etc. (e.g., Nathan refers to “the magnitude of creation,” meaning the large diversity, complexity, and scope of the environment, space, and all of the natural world that God created)
- military career: referring to a life-time of work in the army, marines, etc. (not just a few years of service)
- mint condition: in perfect shape, as if it were new. “Classic cars in mint condition are very expensive.”
- the mob: a group of criminals who work together under powerful leaders
- *nickname: a short name or alternate name for someone (e.g., Al for Alan; Pumpkin for Amanda)
- *“Nuts.” This describes someone or something that is crazy.
- *the odds (are): the chances/probability. “What are the odds…” means “What is the probability that… sth will happen?”
- *P.A.: Public Address System: refers to electronic speakers in public places, where management can give announcements (e.g., “The store will close in 20 minutes” or “Don’t miss the show with Buck and his bear.”)
- payback: (AmE) revenge; when you do sth to make someone suffer because of sth they have done to harm you
- protection and provision: in a prayer, Nathan asks God to keep them from danger (protection) and to provide help (provision) in a time of great need
- *(do) not push your luck: you should stop doing something that involves a risk; quit while you are still able to quit
- *puppies: literally, puppies are young dogs, but some people use the word “puppies” as a synonym for “things” (See dialog 12; non-native speakers might avoid this slang use, as the term has additional negative meanings)
- *redemption: In this movie, Redemption is a place, but the word also means to get something wonderful (or get free from something bad) if someone else pays for it. For example, let’s say you get a letter saying that you won a new car. You get something great, but someone else (e.g., the car company) paid for it. However, you can’t use your new car until “redemption” takes place. That is, you have to exchange the letter for the actual car. If you don’t believe the letter, or think “this is too good to be true,” then you will never get the car. Similarly, Nathan would say that although Jesus paid for your “redemption” from evil, you are not free if you don’t accept his offer.
- *resourceful: able to use whatever is available, often in un-normal ways, to achieve a goal (“Nathan saw a hornet’s nest, and was resourceful enough to use it as a weapon.”)
- retaliation: payback; action against someone who has done sth bad to you
- *sarcastic (sarcasm): saying things that are the opposite of what you mean, in order to make an unkind joke or to show that you are annoyed
- shacking up: to live together in a romantic relationship without being married (“living together” is more positive, while “shacking up” is often negative)
- wild goose chase: an impossible pursuit; describes when you are looking for sth that you are very unlikely to find, so that you waste a lot of time
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Detailed story line:
(underlined words/people are defined or explained in this Study Guide)
Amanda has a lot of problems. She doesn’t have money to pay for her car loan, but when a man (sent from her bank) comes to get her car, she accidentally hurts him. Amanda and her boyfriend (Alan) need money to pay the injured man, but Amanda is afraid to ask for an advance from her boss, Mr. Santoro. (Mr. Santoro is a mob leader—he uses money to illegally influence horse races, and then he helps people get money by betting on the “fixed” races.) After her boss leaves the office, a package of money arrives, along with the names of horses that will win in the afternoon races. Amanda and Alan decide to “borrow” the money (planning to give it back that night) and bet on the “fixed” races, but in the end they lose all the money. That night, Alan sets fire to Mr. Santoro’s office, trying to make it look like someone tried to steal his money. But security cameras show that Alan did the damage. Now, Mr. Santoro and the mob threaten to kill Alan if he doesn’t return the money—they don’t know he lost it betting on horses.
With nowhere else to get money, Amanda decides to turn to her rich grandfather Nathan, even though she has not seen him since a fishing trip 20 years before. He lives in a hospital, and has a serious heart problem. He also recently “got religion” (i.e., became a Christian), and Amanda thinks that this means he is “getting soft” (not able to think clearly) in his old age. But Grandpa Nathan quickly sees through her lies. He also sees that she needs more than just money—his granddaughter’s life needs to be straightened out. Therefore, he offers to give her $250,000 if she will take him on a fishing trip to the place where they went 20 years before—Lake Redemption, Montana. The trip will take three or four days by car, giving them time to get to know each other again.
However, the mob had told Alan and Amanda not to leave Las Vegas, so now they are chasing her (with Alan’s help, along with a trained killer).
On the road to Redemption, Amanda and Nathan face many problems. At first, she doesn’t seem to like him (or his favorite religious program on the radio), but over time she comes to see that he is resourceful and loving. Time after time, miraculous (and often humorous) things happen to save their lives and keep them ahead of trouble.
Not long after they lose Nathan’s medicine (in an accident), the mob catches up with them. Will they be killed? Will Nathan’s heart fail? Do Amanda and Alan get back together again? Does Mr. Santoro get his money back? Does Amanda figure out that she needs something more than she needs money? To get those answers, you will have to watch the movie!
Sentences/dialogs/details from the movie:(Some dialogs are abbreviated. I may add to this before we finish watching; check back later.)
- 1. A tow-truck driver came to pick-up Amanda’s car because she had not made car payments. Amanda accidentally dropped her car on his foot, likely breaking some toes.
- Alan: Look, the driver’s gonna sue us, and he’s gonna win unless we can quickly come up with the $15,000 settlement that he’s asking for.
- We find out that Alan and Amanda have little money, and live in a rented house. Alan wants Amanda to ask her boss for an advance on her pay.
- Alan: Have you hit your boss up for the advance yet?
- Amanda: I asked him if I could talk to him when he was free, but, Alan, I really don’t think it’s a very good idea.
- Alan: …You have no choice. Besides, you deserve something for looking the other way all this time.
- Amanda (angry): NOT over the phone!
- Alan: Oh, come on. What’s the big deal? This is Vegas. Everybody knows he’s running a bookie ring for the mob.
- 2. Alan and Amanda “borrow” her boss’ money, and use it at the race track in “fixed heats” (races that the mob pre-decided which horse would win). After several wins…
- Amanda (relieved): Oh, we’re finally out of debt, Alan.
- Alan: Oh, okay, listen. We’ve only got about 10 minutes to collect our earnings and put it all on the last race.
- Amanda: Whoa, wait a minute. We said we would quit when we were ahead.
- Alan: There’s been a slight change of plan, Amanda.
- Amanda: Let’s not push our luck.
- Alan: Look, Pumpkin, there are four [horse] names circled on this form, three of which came in first. This isn’t about luck. I’ve done the math. In less than 15 minutes, we are both going to be multimillionaires.
- They bet, and lose.
- Alan: Do you have any idea what the mob does to people like us? Do you have any idea what you’ve gotten us into?
- Amanda: Don’t you dare lay this all on me.
- 3. Alan sets a fire at Amanda’s workplace, not knowing that he was recorded by 24-hour security cameras. When Santoro found out, he sent his “gorilla” Vincent to Alan’s home, who “trashed” the place looking for the “borrowed” money. While cleaning up, Amanda sees a photo of her grandfather (whom she hardly knows), and decides to visit him in nearby Arizona.
- Amanda (talking about her grandpa): They say he’s worth millions. He’s down in Flagstaff (Arizona) at a V.A. hospital [for veterans]. He can easily afford a lot better, but he wants to be with his old Marine Corps pals. My mom’s been after me to visit him for years, but I guess he’s got all kinds of health problems.
- Alan: Vincent warned me that we must not skip town…but you go right ahead and get your little advance on the family inheritance.
- Amanda: Alan, there’s a very good chance he’s not gonna give me the money anyway. He recently got religion, so I don’t think he’d be thrilled to know his money is going to pay a mob debt.
- Alan: Well… Because he’s become this religious nut, just means that he’s getting soft in his old age, huh? Hey, when was the last time you saw the old geezer anyway?
- Amanda (sad and fearful): When that picture was taken.
- 4. When they meet, it is clear to Nathan that his granddaughter is desperate, and in trouble. So he says that “since it’s a matter or life or death,” he’ll give her $250,000 on the condition “that we go fishing exactly like the last time we were together…in Redemption, Montana.” A nurse tells Amanda that it is very dangerous to take Nathan to another state, because of his serious medical condition, but Amanda doesn’t care—she needs the money.
- 5. In the car, Nathan tells Amanda that he has “a personal relationship with God.”
- Amanda: That seems a little ironic. My dad told me that you were so busy with your military career and the family oil business, that he hardly even knew you. He said that he probably had about five conversations with you in his entire life, and that was only when he got in trouble. So, it just seems a little bit silly to me to hear you say that you have an intimate relationship [with God].
- Nathan: Your dad [my son] exaggerated slightly, but he wasn’t far off. I wasn’t much of a father when I had my chance. You have no idea what I’d give to do it all over again.
- 6. When Nathan finds out that Amanda and Alan are “shacking up,” he admits that he thinks this arrangement is immoral, but then he says: “I’m concerned. What kind of assurance could you have about the seriousness of this man’s commitment? What if you have a baby outside of marriage? I would not trust a man that would put you in that situation.”
(If broken into three parts, Part 1 stops after Alan gets on the plane; about 33 minutes.)
Discussion: (part 1)
- D1. Have you ever had your car towed, or otherwise been unable to make your payments? How did it make you feel? What lessons did you learn?
- D2. What did you think of the way Amanda treated the towing company man? Explain.
- D3. If Alan had not “pushed their luck,” and they could have returned the money that night, would everything be OK? Or was it still “wrong” to borrow Mr. Santoro’s money without permission?
- D4. Have you ever told someone that an action/gift/etc. “had some conditions“? Tell us about it.*
- D5. Read dialog number 5 above. Are you old enough to wish you could “do something all over again?” Tell us about it. (If you are young, what do you think your grandparents wish they could “do over”?)
- D6. Item number 6 above is about behavior that Nathan thinks is “immoral” but Amanda thinks is “ok.” Can you think of something that your grandparents might think is “immoral,” but your friends think is “OK”? How do we know if something is moral or immoral?
*I once did the very unusual thing of giving a restaurant gift card with “strings attached” (that is, I actually taped strings onto the card) to indicate that there were “conditions”. My conditions were that they couldn’t use the card unless my wife and I came to the restaurant with them. Why? It was a way to say, “we want to build our friendship together.” Later, we all enjoyed a wonderful meal together.
- 7. Nathan has had open-heart surgery. He describes his serious medical condition as ‘sort of a big bubble’ near his heart. If pills don’t make his blood thinner, the “big blowout” (i.e., death) could happen soon.
- Amanda: So, [the surgeons] fixed it?
- Nathan: They tried to, but the tear was too close to the heart, so there’s nothing they could do but just have me take these blood thinners.
- Amanda: So, those nurses weren’t exaggerating.
- Nathan: Well, they say the big blowout could happen anytime now. But I’m ready.
- Amanda is upset and asks how he can face such a big deal so casually.
- Nathan: Honey, it’s the Lord. He gives me peace. At least I know where I’m going when this old body gives out.
- Nathan’s watch beeps; Nathan says it reminds him to take his “spiritual vitamin” (a radio program).
- 8. As they approach Vernal, Utah, Vincent apologizes for having to hit Alan so hard when Santoro tells him to, but “it’s just business.”
- Alan says he’s seen movies about the mob, “so I capisce (understand) your Italian jive.”
- They are listening to “eight-track tapes” of David Cassidy singing old songs, as part of a popular group from their childhood called “The Partridge Family.” An odd thing about 8-track tapes was how there was a long break in the middle of some songs, when the “track” changed.
- 9. After listening to Nathan’s favorite radio show (which we don’t hear), they talk about the message.
- Amanda (with disbelief in her voice): So… Jesus is coming again? Why would he wanna do that? I mean, if he came here once and he was crucified, why would he wanna come back?
- Nathan: When he returns, things will be a little different. He’s coming back to be the world’s judge. You wanna be ready when you meet him in that role.
- 10. To make Amanda slow down, Vincent puts sugar in the gas tank. When the car stops (in the middle of the road, far from any city), Amanda tells Nathan that the mob is after them, and “both of our lives are in danger.” Then Amanda tells Nathan more of her story.
- Nathan: Amanda, we all make mistakes. We both know that I’ve certainly made enough of my own.
- Amanda: Yeah, well, I think I’ve taken it to a whole new level. In the past three days, I have lost $250,000, my job, probably my boyfriend. And most of my possessions have been destroyed. Now, you and I are stranded out here in the middle of the Utah desert with the Mafia posse closing in on us. Tell me, Nathan, what else could possibly go wrong?
- 11. Amanda’s car is hit by a train. The next morning, Alan and the mob are looking at the wreckage. Frank looks like he is “reading” clues on a burned license plate.
- Frank: The old man and the young girl are still alive. They were picked up by two bikers, one wearing black leather chaps, and riding a red Road King. The other’s riding a silver Dyna Wide Glide with blue flames on the tank. They’re headed north. Let’s go.
- Alan (to Vincent): That’s incredible! How could get all that just off the license plate?
- Vincent: I told you. He’s a professional [tracker].
- 12. Nathan takes Amanda to visit an old friend, Charlie, who once dated the woman who married Nathan (Grandma Rose). Sadly, Charlie has died, but his niece says that if Nathan can get one of Charlie’s old cars to run, “you’re more than welcome to it.”
- Amanda (when they get to the barn): Check this place out! What do you think the odds are one of these puppies still works?
- Nathan: Oh, Charlie’s never let me down before. Let’s see what we got here. (He removes a cover.) Will you look at that?!
- Amanda: I think we hit the jackpot! (That means that she feels like we won a big prize, because the car is a race car from 1971, a Plymouth Barracuda, in mint condition. A mechanic says that car is a mix of “pure power, performance and perfection.”)
- 13. In the car, they are talking about how they were almost killed by the train.
- Amanda: You saved my life last night. There was a moment when I felt that train barreling down on me, and I thought for sure that was it.
- Nathan: Well, there are no guarantees for any of us.
- Amanda: How do you do it? How do you live knowing that at any moment you could…
- Nathan: Derail? Eh, we’re all on similar tracks. It’s just easier to see the end of mine.
- Amanda: But you have such peace.
- Nathan: I’m ready. When I stand before God, I know that my sins will be forgiven and I’ll be welcomed home. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I’m not only not afraid of death, but I’ll finally be able to meet him and thank him in person. Amanda, if nothing else comes out of this time we’ve spent together, I pray that you’ll seriously consider if you’re ready to stand before God.
- Amanda (she sighs): I’m having a hard time standing in front of the mirror lately. Even then, I don’t like what I see.
(If broken into three parts, Part 2 stops after Nathan sees, and gets, the beehive, and then resumes the car chase; about 65 minutes from the start of the film. Start Part 3 at the beginning of the chase. During the credits, there is one last scene, in a jail; about 1:25 total.)
Discussion: (part 2)
- D7. Alan and Vincent became friends when they discovered that they liked the same music as teens. Discuss some of the things that lead to strong friendships.
- D8. When the eight-track player was new, people thought it was a big improvement on older ways to listen to music. Now, that long pause seems silly. What are some other inventions that were once “amazing” but are now rare or silly?
- D9. During the car ride, Nathan and Amanda often talked about religion. How do you feel when someone wants to talk about religion? Tell us what you think of this statement (from wiki): “Although it is rude for a religious person to refuse to leave you alone when you have asked them to, it is also rude for you to treat a person as though what matters most to them in the world is ultimately insignificant.” (from http://www.wikihow.com; May 2007)
- D10. Re-read dialog number 13. Do you think it is possible for someone to “be ready” to stand before God, the way Nathan talks about it? Why or why not?
- D11. Think of your favorite toy from childhood. Would you rather have one of those today “in mint condition” or would you rather have the actual toy you once loved (even though it probably has been “so loved” that it doesn’t look “new” at all)? Explain.
The following photos are from the exciting conclusion (Part 3) of “Road to Redemption”.
- 14. Nathan wrote a letter “in case something bad happens.” Here’s what it said:
- My dear Amanda: …It was my own choice [to take the medical risk to go so far]. I’ve had selfish reasons for wanting to take this trip all along. I want you to know it’s never been about fishing. After all these years, I just wanted to make a connection with my only granddaughter, and hopefully, share with you the forgiveness and peace I’ve found. It’s never too late. If Christ can forgive me, turn my life around at this late an age, then he can certainly do the same for you if you’ll only let him. That is my prayer…. Your loving grandfather, Nathan.
- 15. We find out later why Santoro is so angry. Word got back to his clients back east. To keep from damaging his reputation (more important than the lost money), “an example has to be made,” (meaning that the guilty person must die). Here’s a conversation during the car chase.
- Alan: Guys, the main highway’s back there. What are we doing?
- Vincent: Oh, no. He’s very close. Frank can feel it.
- Alan: Feel what?
- Vincent: It.
- Franks (after he jumps out of the car): Keep going.
- Vincent: Aye, Aye, Frank.
- Alan: Where’s he goin’?
- Vincent (sarcastically): To get a hamburger. How should I know? The man’s a genius. They’re like magicians. You never ask, and they’ll never tell you.
- Alan: This is nuts, Vinny. I’m tellin’ you, all right? This is a wild-goose chase. The old man’s getting away.
- Vincent: Well, stop worrying. Frank knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s a gift.
- Later, Vincent gives Alan a big gun, which makes Alan afraid.
- Vincent: I’m not askin’ you to shoot anybody. Just let him see it. He’ll know you mean business. Besides, I thought you’d want a little payback for him kicking you back at the gas station. Come on! Don’t be a chicken.
- 16. In a restaurant.
- Man on P.A.: Welcome to Fort Frontier! Don’t miss Buck Towland wrestling a grizzly bear today at 12:30. Step right in, folks.
- Amanda: I was so wrong, you know. I mean about Alan and everything.
- Nathan: I’m sorry, dear heart. He was a lousy shot, too. [we hear their laughs, sniffles]
- Amanda: I’m sure we will both feel a lot better after we get a good night’s sleep tonight. After all, tomorrow is our big day.
- Nathan: You know, Amanda, considering the circumstances, and what we’ve been through and all, maybe we should just call it off.
- Amanda: Don’t you be silly. We are 40 miles away. You’ve drug me all the way up here. We are definitely going fishing tomorrow. [Then she realizes that Nathan isn’t feeling well.] When was the last time you took your medicine?
- Nathan: Got lost in the V.W.
- Amanda: Aspirin’s a blood thinner. Would that help until we can get to a pharmacy
- Nathan: Couldn’t hurt.
- Amanda: All right. I’ll be right back, okay?
- While Amanda is buying aspirin, she listens to the TV news.
- Reporter: Police say the occupants of this gold Cadillac shot out the tire of the stolen truck, in retaliation for that brown hornet’s nest we showed you earlier. Local prosecutors are vowing to make an example of these men, in what police are calling another senseless act of road rage.
If you don’t want to know the end of the movie, stop reading here.
- 17. Doctor: Miss Tucker, your grandfather has not regained consciousness. We’re running some tests, but I’m afraid he’s slipping away. We’re doing everything we can, but a man with his medical history…. I just don’t wanna give you false hope. Medication or no medication, a man with his heart condition should never be outside of close medical supervision. This can’t be a surprise to you. I talked to the physicians at the hospital he came from and they said they warned you what would happen. Forgive me for asking, but I can’t figure out what possibly could motivate you to take that kind of a risk.
- 18. Amanda (while fishing): This is taking a lot longer than I remember.
- Nathan: That’s why they call it “fishing.” If it was easy, they would call it “catching.” Everybody would be doing it.
- Amanda: Why did you let the fish go?
- Nathan: Considering that you and I have been given a second chance, it just seemed appropriate.
Discussion: (part 3)
- D12. Mr. Santoro was more angry about his reputation than his lost money. Which do you think is more important (reputation or money), and why?
- D13. Several people in this film were resourceful. How did people use these things in a resourceful way? hornet’s nest, sugar, a fishing trip, aspirin, a hay truck, a gas credit-card, an electrical cord. Can you think of others?
- D14. Nathan wrote a letter “in case something bad happens.” This is a common practice for soldiers during a war. What do you think about this practice? If you were to write such a letter, what’s one thing you’d want to say, and to whom?
- D15. Here’s the speech Amanda heard on the radio, which changed her life. How would you answer this question?
- “The Bible tells us that God’s standard of perfection is beyond the reach of any man. Each of us is a sinner with a rebellious, selfish nature deserving eternal punishment. But the good news is that God loves you. If you humbly confess your sin and believe that the Lord, Jesus Christ took your place on Calvary’s cross, and if you turn in repentance and follow God, you will receive eternal life, and begin to experience the true peace that comes through God’s forgiveness. Wherever you are… God is calling you tonight. No matter what you are struggling with, Jesus Christ is your answer. What is it going to take for God to finally get your attention?” (The speaker is Rev. Franklin Graham)
- D16. Which character in the film do “relate to” the most, and why?
- D17. Complete one of the following sentences, talking about this film:
- This film made me feel….
- This film was too…
- The filmmakers should have…
- The movie would have been more entertaining if…
- I’d like to see another film like this because…
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