Drowning on Dry Land (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes

Barbara Hershey plays an unhappy Manhattanite who hails a cab and says "take me to the desert." Naveen Andrews is the cab driver who takes her on a seven-day fare. They eventually end up in bed together. So it's a romance - if your idea of romance is to see the interaction between two people who hate themselves and each other. (And whom we hate in turn.)

The "trailer" for this - I used quotes because I can't imagine that anybody ever saw this trailer, since the film had no theatrical release - but anyway, the trailer voice guy said it was "an erotic adventure." Sure, if your idea of eroticism is to see a fifty-year-old woman stay dressed for 85 minutes while she makes love with a flabby guy whose body hair places him in the celebrity pantheon somewhere between Ed Asner and Gentle Ben. I'm not sure if I'm proud or ashamed of the fact that I'm willing to sit through a movie like this in the hope of eventually seeing fiftyish Barbara Hershey naked but, for what it's worth, Hershey finally did show the goods - pubes and all - in some pretty explicit action in the last five minutes. She still looks terrific, and is in top physical condition.

A good fifteen minutes of the film could have been cut without missing anything at all. They are just lengthy stretches without dialogue in which the two main characters are in the cab driving along the highway. Of course those scenes, although soporific, were sometimes preferable to the parts where the two talked to one another. By the way, the film ends somewhere in the middle of the trip, with nothing much resolved or moved forward.

IMDB says that this movie won a nomination for the Golden Spur at the Flanders International Film Festival

You might want to scratch that festival off your list.


DVD info



Barbara Hershey - full-frontal

Naveen Andrews - butt

Tuna's notes

Drowning on Dry Land is set up as a road movie, but is actually a romance.

Here's the pitch:

Kate is 51, and still in therapy from an abusive marriage. One night, she hails a New York cabby named Darshan and asks him to drive her to the desert for $300.00/day. He is Indian, much younger than her, and also a deeply damaged person. Additionally, he is much below her in social status. They travel back-roads and get off to a rocky start. Kate is abrasive, and Darshan is private. Eventually they overcome the differences in age, race and social status to find redemption in each other's arms. Since most of the film takes place in a cab, it will be cheap to film, and you will have gorgeous Western scenery for a backdrop. There will be one day of shooting in New York, a little second unit work on the East Coast, then most of the exteriors can be shot around Barstow, with interiors filmed on the lot in L.A. Best of all, two stars, Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews are already committed to the project. We finish with a bang. Hershey has agreed to get completely naked for a sex scene.

If I heard the above pitch, I might consider green-lighting the film. It is a road movie/romantic comedy, will be cheap to shoot, and will have nudity from a big star. However, if I had even a moderately effective bullshit detector, my reaction would go something like this:

"Let me see if I have this right. You are going to put two losers who don't like each other, and don't communicate, inside a cab for several days while they drive across the country? They will stop in motels that make port-a-pottys seem hospitable by comparison and then, for a grand finale, you are going to get your 51-year-old female lead naked? Since they don't communicate, there won't be much talking going on in the cab ..."

"That's the beauty here. He is Indian, get it? So we can just play weird and royalty-free, Indian-sounding music whenever there is nothing going on."

And God said make it so.

Barbara Hershey does show everything, and looks wonderful. She wears her years in her face when the lighting and make-up are less than perfect, but her body still incites lust. Unfortunately, you will have to wade through the entire snooze-fest to get to the nudity, after which time the film ends abruptly. They have sex, then they sit on a log ... fade to black and roll credits. There are no major reviews, but there are some IMDb comments, which are less than kind, often blaming Hershey's acting ability for the problems. Frankly, the real problem was in the premise, not the execution. The entire movie hinges on conversations between two unpleasant people who don't like each other and can't communicate.

 It was simply a bad idea.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a D. If not for the Barbara Hershey nudity, there would be absolutely no reason to watch this movie.

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