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Priviledged Stars Whining Across Europe, Mongolia, and USA,
This review is from: Long Way Round [DVD]  (DVD)
I have a love-hate dilemma with this docu made for TV special for several reasons. As a enormous fan of Ewan McGregor, the principle of a trip to experience the world seems a great notion, however, there is more to this story than simply two blokes out for a lark on bikes. This much touted adventure for the extreme sports fans as well featured the star and his best friend, actor Charlie Boorman, on BMW motorcycles on an around the world vacation.
Because of Ewan's star power, the pair are able to offset the cost of this adventure by hiring a television producer and charming companies to donate their equipment and services including two enormous BMW touring cycles, 4x4 SUVs, security equipment, camping equipment, designer duds for biking, tools, toolboxes, and the list goes on and on. They also had a contract with Bravo TV and a book deal in the bag. This is hardly a living off the land excursion, but an expedition that might turn into the ill-fated McGregor- Boorman Party.
Perhaps most offensive is the statement that the adventure was to raise awareness and monies for UNICEF charities for children, and not to profit McGregor and Boorman. Whether this is true is never revealed and if funds were raised for the organization, it's not disclosed, however, the television commercials and internet exposure was worldwide, much to McGregor's surprise. He doesn't seem to understand how expansive the power of the web worldwide.
Throughout the two discs set, McGregor and Boorman provide reality TV one-on-one interviews with their personal diaries of the day's activities. It is an informal discussion, usually provided after the pair have settled in for the evening and are about to retire. The humorous quips and obvious friendship and respect between McGregor and Boorman keeps the situation light, but as the conditions of the road deteriorate, so do the spirits of the star.
While Boorman struggles to remain healthy and keep the pair on the road, McGregor is at the mercy of his own off-road inexperience, away from wife, kiddies, and his security blanket, it is his own inability to be of tougher stuff that is exposed. He whines, they both whine, and when it becomes almost intolerable, they meet situations and people who live so far below the standard of the pampered upper middle class lifestyles it is obscene to listen to the pair complain without seething at their needed to just grow up. Wifey's were around to pick up or cook, but lots of humble and generous other women were doing it for the Mrs. McGregor and Boorman, who had not the fiscal wherewithall to take from meger larders.
Although invited to share the homes of kind folks along the road, nomads, and simple working class individuals, the experience of seeing the world as they've never known it is still trying for Ewan. It is only when the pair is exposed to the remains of the soviet block countries is there the beginnings of a reality check for the pair. Children dying of exposure to Chernobyl, children who live under the streets to survive, and nomads who are so foreign to McGregor that he at times seems childish and unprepared for their hard lives. His depression is real, yet, one wondered if anyone prepped McGregor what to expect? What a pampered poodle existance this man lives.
Only when the pair reach the United States, Alaska, through Canada, and into the northern states to NYC do the pair seem to relax among English speaking, cell-phone toting, westerners like themselves. But, it is during the hardship of the Road of Bones that McGregor seemed to finally grow up and with that experience under his belt, his entry to New York is a decided letdown.
I enjoy the personalities, but the premise still has an uncomfortable aura of privilege versus poverty that makes for uncomfortable watching through most of the series.