THE CLIMB (2020)
Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godrèche, Daniella Covino, Eden Malyn, Meredith Holzman
Directed by Michael Angelo Covino
The love-hate relationship between best friends Mike (director Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin) is at the center of this sleeper comedy that moves into the upper echelon of cycling films. The opening sequence where Mike admits to sleeping with Kyle’s fiancé as the duo struggle riding up a hill is comedy gold. “The Climb” rises to the top of this year’s funniest films.
The film started as a short that played at Sundance but soon Covino and Martin — real-life best friends — knew they were on to something and so “The Climb” became a feature film. Covino is an avid cyclist but thank goodness the film is not autobiographical. Mike and Kyle’s relationship is toxic but 100% credible. Is the bond in a bromance strong enough to withstand the level of betrayal by an egocentric best friend like the film’s Mike? Most viewers would probably say “No,” but anyone who’s ever been in a strong friendship can attest to how it’s possible to overlook the draconian behavior by a BFF especially when you lack willpower.
The film’s opening longshot in the French countryside features Mike and Kyle cycling uphill. Kyle is excited about marrying his fiancé (Judith Godreche), “Mike I’m getting married. How awesome is that?” which is followed by “She loves me for who I am.” Suddenly, in deadpan Mike blurts out “Kyle I slept with her.” At first, you’re not sure if Mike is just saying that to motivate Kyle to pedal faster as he furiously tries to catch up with his buddy, but unfortunately, it’s the truth.
Within the first few minutes of “The Climb” it’s evident that Kyle is the weaker link in this friendship — he’s the nice guy that always finishes last. Mike is self-absorbed, domineering, and of course single. He’s also the kind of jerk that would sleep with his best friend’s girl, apparently more than once, so why would Kyle continue to let this guy be a part of his life? Welcome to Cinema Therapy 101. The audience is left playing psychologist for the next hour examining these average guys, surrounded by average folks, as one amusing scenario after another transpires on screen.
“The Climb” is the best cycling film since Peter Yates’ 1979 dramedy “Breaking Away.” The script written by Covino, Marvin, and Noah Lang is Award-winning strong — it’s heartwarming, authentic, and very funny. Complete with musical interludes, the film emits a Wes Anderson vibe as the humor becomes zany on occasion. The fact that the storyline covers Thanksgiving and Christmas, the comedy could become the next unconventional holiday classic.
Now showing in select theaters.