Small-screen portable media players like iPods may be the all-time worst place to watch movies, but airplanes run a close second – so much so, in fact, that folks will often use that dubious option as a barometer for their interest in them. The truth is that I watched the majority of D Tour on an airplane because I had no other option, but it's a testament to the effectiveness of the film that I was inspired and moved to tears despite having to do so. A documentary about Rogue Wave drummer Pat Spurgeon dealing with the demands of a debilitating kidney disease, temporary or ineffective treatments, and the search for a permanent cure while meeting the demands of a grueling tour schedule, D Tour is a powerful, evocative and deeply personal story.
At the beginning of the film, Spurgeon epitomizes the casual, charming, devil-may-care attitude of rock-musician cliché, despite a lifelong battle with his kidneys, and seemingly bleak prospects for suitable replacements. It's precisely this sort of mellow acceptance that lulls the audience into an initial complacency – not to mention the familiarity of "search for a cure" docs and feature films – before director Jim Granato pulls back his focus to reveal a devastating network of disappointments, dashed hopes, and near misses, creating not only compelling cinematic drama but a palpable sense of goodness, attempted and occasionally realized, that is simply irresistible (and yes, tear-inducing) to viewers.
Even as far as surprise endings go, D Tour concludes with a detour from its initial narrative that is truly shocking, and yet Granato assembles these real events in a way that would have made them seem unrealistic or ridiculously melodramatic were they in a fictional narrative. But the film highlights the simple truth that even in the face of tragedy, people find that they've prepared for it before it even happens, and because of that, they can ultimately triumph. Interestingly, for a film that could have either been a chronicle of a benefit concert (which is documented in the film) or itself a conduit for donations and opportunities to help Spurgeon, D Tour seems to succeed because it actually benefits its audience the most, all of which is why it's the kind of story that people can enjoy even if they've seen others like it - on stage, screen or yeah, even on a plane.