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Thunder Road is an indie 2018 Dramedy film written by, directed by, and starring Jim Cummings as Officer James Arnaud. Largely dialogue-driven, the film follows Arnaud in the days after his mother's funeral as he begins letting his grief interfere with his job, personal relationships, and custody battle for his daughter.

Based on Cummings' award-winning 2016 short of the same name, both of which get their title from the song by Bruce Springsteen.


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Tropes displayed by Thunder Road:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Arnaud's custody battle for his daughter certainly qualifies.
    • Passing down a disability, such as dyslexia, to your children is something that really eats away at him as well.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Arnaud is socially awkward and extremely ill-equipped to handle his emotions, to the point that he draws his firearm during an argument.
  • Apologises a Lot: In the midst of emotional breakdowns, Arnaud tends to do rude or insulting things and then immediately apologize for them.
  • Beat: When Arnaud tells a self-deprecating joke to minimize some embarrassment, his daughter's teacher just stares blankly at him for an awkward moment before the conversation resumes.
  • Black Best Friend: Officer Nate Lewis, who comforts Arnaud outside of his work.
  • Book Dumb: Arnaud has enough intelligence to be a cop, but he's not very educated. He admits that he got poor grades, disparages the university he attended and doesn't know what the word "strident" means. His dyslexia is likely part of the problem.
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  • Bookend: The film opens with Jim Arnaud crying at his mother's funeral. It ends with him crying at a ballet performance, only this time they're tears of joy.
  • Bumbling Dad: Played with a mixture of comedy and drama, as a lot of direct exchanges between Arnaud and his daughter are humorous, but really do contribute to his increasing desperation.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Jim Cummings really lets loose as James Arnauld. A lot of his delivery is just so over-the-top, but it works with the movie's tone.
  • Cringe Comedy: Most of the comedy comes from some creative dialogue in Arnauld's most desperate moments. It's certainly entertaining... but maybe not unflinchingly.
  • Determinator: Arnaud's mother would soldier through everything without letting anyone know about it, which ultimately caused her untimely death when she let an injury go untreated too long.
  • Disappeared Dad: Arnaud and his siblings were raised by a single mother.
  • Happily Married: Subverted. Arnaud accuses Nate of not being able to relate to his situation because he and his wife are in a good relationship. It's not expanded on much, but Nate assures him they have their problems.
  • Heroic BSoD: Arnauld has many, including the very first scene of the movie at his mother's funeral.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Arnaud weeps openly and messily on quite a few occasions, most notably in the opening scene.
  • Manchild: His grieving state amplifies it, but Arnaud definitely qualifies.
  • Momma's Boy: Arnaud was one to a T.
  • The Oner:Many scenes, particularly those of Arnaud breaking down, are filmed in one long, continuous shot, the most notable being the opening scene at the funeral.
  • Overprotective Dad: Arnaud tells his daughter to stop hanging out with a boy at school, whom he suspects is a "slicker." He's clearly worried that she'll wind up like the 16-year-old he caught in a car with two "slickers." This is in spite of the fact that his daughter is just starting fourth grade.
  • Prone to Tears: Officer Arnaud could break down crying in any scene.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • Arnaud puts something in a water cup outside his sister's house. It might be their mother's earrings, but we never see it.
    • Was Chris involved in Rosalind's death? How did it come about?
  • Rule of Funny: A darkly hilarious moment has Crystal's teacher slip a pair of scissors out of Arnaud's reach after his emotional outburst. Sharp-pointed scissors wouldn't be in a fourth-grade classroom, and there's no reason for them to be on the desk in this situation, but it makes the joke work.
  • Shout-Out: The titular Bruce Springsteen song, of course.
  • Talking to the Dead: Arnaud opens up to his mother's grave, though he initially thinks the exercise is stupid.
  • Tears of Joy: Jim Arnaud sheds some in the very last scene when he sees his daughter entranced at a ballet performance.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The movie's teaser was literally just an excerpt from Arnaud's breakdown outside the police station in response to getting fired.
  • The Unfavorite: Arnaud's sister complains that their mother loved him more than her, to the point that she gave him her hand-me-down earrings even though he's a man.

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