This Is Nowhere

Doug Hawes-Davis.| 87 minutes. High Plains Films.

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This Is Nowhere explores the zany, postmodern subculture of travelers who wander the country in RVs, camping in Wal-Mart parking lots. You heard right: camping at Wal-Mart. About 7 million Americans roam the country in motor homes and trailers. Wal-Mart, evidently, has smelled their purchasing power — and welcomed them to overnight in store parking lots, secure in the knowledge that money not spent at a KOA often ends up in their cash registers.

The film allows the RV-ers at a Wal-Mart in Missoula, Montana, to speak for themselves, and the result is 87 minutes of raw, sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing commentary about contemporary American values. We meet a gold miner, a former NASA engineer, and a retired Sears promotions manager who marvels at being able to exchange endlessly (10 times and counting) defective Wal-Mart canvas sneakers and memorably recounts burying his dead cat in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Mexico.

The campers express similar motivations: wanderlust and a desire to see the natural beauty of America. Indeed, the backdrop for the film is the forested skyline of the Sapphire Mountains. Punctuating the irony of the RV-ers’ journeys from one identical box store to another, however, the film ends with a montage of Missoula’s strip culture, which might as well be Anywhere — or Nowhere — USA.

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