Waydowntown

2001, Movie, R, 83 mins

Review

WAYDOWNTOWN
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Quirky, original, and often very funny, writer/director Gary Burns' quasi-surrealist take on urban angst takes off from an interesting factoid — in some cities, sufficiently large areas of apartment complexes, stores, and office buildings are interconnected via enclosed walkways that it's possible to spend your entire life without ever going outside or breathing fresh air. When the film opens — which is set in Calgary, but could just as well be Minneapolis or any number of other cities with similar downtowns — four office workers (exactly what the large company they work for does is, drolly, never revealed) are in day 24 of a bet to see who can stay indoors the longest. The prize: A month's salary. The action unfolds in real time over the course of a single lunch hour and, as you might imagine, the human lab rats are beginning to get a little wiggy from being hermetically sealed. Tom (Fab Fillipo) is smoking way too much pot, having visions of caped superheros and trying to ignore his annoying cubicle mate Brad (Don McKellar), a 20-year office veteran who's developed the disturbing habit of attaching neatly lettered self-help aphorisms to his own chest with push-pins. Sandra (Marya Delver) is convinced that toxic air is seeping into the building and compulsively sniffs magazine perfume inserts. Randy (Tobias Godson) gives animal names to mall patrons and chats aimlessly with a mall security guard. And the better who really who doesn't really need the money, office lothario Curt (Gordon Currie) — he's perpetually on the prowl because his finacee is holding out until after the wedding — is taking advantage of the situation by putting the moves on a vulnerable co-worker, mousey and also-engaged Vicki (Jennifer Clement). In addition, there's also a very funny sub-plot involving the firm's kleptomaniac elderly boss (Harris Hart), who's wandering the mall pocketing items large and small. Burns keeps all these narrative balls in the air rather neatly and movie's faded day-glo look — much of it was shot on video — is nicely hallucinatory. The acting is similarly accomplished across the board, though it must be noted that Currie nearly walks off with the film: He's the funniest preppie seducer since Tim Matheson in ANIMAL HOUSE (1978). leave a comment --Steve Simels

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Waydowntown
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