The Same River Twice

In 1978, a group of friends in their late twenties, after working for several years as river guides in the Grand Canyon, decided to spend one last summer together on the Colorado – rafting, hanging out, and mostly being naked. One of them, Robb Moss, filmed the trip and made a little-seen documentary about it called River Dogs.

Twenty years later, Moss revisited five members of this group to document how their lives had changed. Big surprise: they got older, and – with the exception of one amiable loser who stayed working as a guide – got married, had kids, and became respectable members of their communities.

The Same River Twice is a good example of a film that works entirely on concept and not on delivery. It would only be interesting to see how these five people changed if we had found them interesting in the first place. They all seem like nice folks, but Moss doesn't make their lives – past or present – compelling. Nor do they have much to say about aging, nostalgia, or even their own pasts. There are two or three wry observations on growing up, but they don't sustain a film that quickly runs out of ideas and winds up a boring home movie about people we don't know.

The early footage, which is all too sparingly used, is notable only for the nudity and the easy-to-capture beauty of the Grand Canyon. The Same River Twice would have been fine as a 15-minute short. In fact, the trailer shows you everything except the naughty bits.