Crossing The Bridge Shines As The Directing Debut For A Great Career

This is the second in a series of reviews where we look at the major films of Mike Binder. This was Binder’s directing debut and was his second major screenplay to be made into a film.

posterWhen someone is making their debut as a director it only makes sense that they have a sense of familiarity to the film. Mike Binder’s second written film and first directed was just that. Titled Crossing The Bridge, it is the story of friends at a crossroads in their lives in the early 1970’s in Detroit Michigan. The 3 friends, Mort, Tim and Danny are trying to figure out how the rest of their lives will play out. Mort is the central character who has aspirations of going to college and being a screenwriter. During this adverse period in their lives the three are presented with an opportunity to make some quick, serious money by an acquaintance, played by a young unknown David Schwimmer of Friends fame. He offers them nine thousand dollars to go to Toronto and bring back some marijuana. After much debate and a series of different events take place they all three agree. When they arrive and discover that it’s heroin not marijuana they are forced to make a decision that will affect the outcome of their lives.

Mixed with the perfect combination of drama and comedy that has been Mike Binder’s trade mark since the first film he wrote. With a cast of unknown actors other than possibly Jeffery Tambor, who was not the pop culture phenomenon that he is now. A young Stephen Baldwin portrays Danny, the somewhat leader of the three while Josh Charles is Mort whom the story really focuses on with Jason Gedrick rounding out the group as Tim. Narrated by Binder which is very fitting because the story is based on events that actually happened to him and his friends around that age. Mort also shows how he wants to be a writer much like Binder who wanted to do so since the age of eleven.

Great performances and well told story that flows with perfect timing, Crossing The Bridge shows Binder’s hometown of Detroit and makes it as muchphoto of a character as any actor in the film.

The title refers to the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit USA with Canada, not unlike the Peace Bridge in Buffalo,NY. These are towns that parallel each other in this area and can easily be mistaken for each other visually.

Mixed with a side love story that is not the average that you would expect it is a necessary one to contribute to the flow of the story.

It was made as an independent movie many, many years before independent films were considered cool and got the exposure that they get now. This film was made for it’s compelling story and for the love of telling it. Thankfully executives at Disney would recognize something special in Mike Binder’s story and that would lead to the launch of a career of great story telling that the film industry is better off for having had them told.

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7 thoughts on “Crossing The Bridge Shines As The Directing Debut For A Great Career”

  1. Great movie. I grew up in southern Michigan in the late 60s/early 70s and at that time the Ambassador Bridge was known for two things: smuggling drugs as recounted in the movie and evading the draft. It wasn’t uncommon for young people from the Great Lakes region to know of someone who went to Canada rather than go to Viet Nam, and virtually everyone “claimed” to know of someone who smuggled drugs from Canada. Obviously drugs were smuggled but a lot of urban legend dynamics were at play as well.

    Nice review by “Love your movies” but one big error. LYM says, “Crossing the Bridge shows Binder’s hometown of Detroit”, well not so much. Aside from a few exterior scenes of the War Wagon driving around Detroit (past Tiger Stadium), the movie was shot in the Twin Cities. The Hennipen Avenue bridge was used as the Ambassador Bridge, the University of St. Thomas doubled for the University of Toronto, the mudbowl was played in St. Paul. I live here now and recognize most of the locations.

    One last observation. I love that Bob Seger’s best song (IMHO) “Til it shines” with that fantastic guitar solo by Glenn Frey ends the movie.

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