waydowntown

 

Laura Clifford 
Robin Clifford 

In downtown Calgary, a complex of shopping malls, offices and apartments are interconnected via glass walkways for block after city block. Five wildly different office colleagues have wagered a month's salary that whoever can stay inside the longest wins the pot in cowriter (with James Martin)/director Gary Burns' "waydowntown."

Laura:
Playing in relative real time over the course of a lunch hour on the 24th day of the bet, we first meet Tom (Fab Filipo), the new guy in the office, a marijuana smoking Goth and the bet's chief architect.  Tom takes pleasure in rattling go-getter Sandra (Marya Delver) with creepy facts about recycled air, while growing somewhat concerned with the mental health of 'Sadly I'm' Brad (Don McKellar, "Last Night"), a twenty year office veteran.  Randy (Tobias Godson) informs Tom that Curt (Gordon Currie), the engaged-to-be-married-for-two-years office lothario, won a bet like this before, so Tom nudges Curt towards easy prey - the also engaged, mousy clerk Vicki (Jennifer Clement).

Tom's been tasked with picking up a gift for the firm's octogenarian owner, Mr. Mather (Harris Hart), but is consistently kept off course by one comic incident after another.  He keeps crossing paths with Sandra, who's just been given the important job of following Mather during lunch hour because he's a kleptomaniac.  Tom becomes troubled by his ethics when he won't go outside to check on the possible suicide he may have caused while Sandra manically steals perfumed magazine inserts which she uses like a gas mask.  Randy hangs out with a shopping mall security guard, commenting on the passers-by.  Back in the office, while the receptionist eavesdrops on Curt and Vickie's bathroom encounter, Brad escalates from stapling himself with motivational mottos ('Don't compromise - prioritize') to dancing ever closer to the glass windows clutching a marble-filled bottle. By film's end, all five will have shifted their priorities when they realize where their bet as led them.

Martin and Burns' script is amusing and often inventive, although some choices, such as making Mather's gift a $3,500 crystal vase, are nonsensically plot driven.  Visually, "waydowntown" is more like a music video than a theatrical film, with Tom frequently flying around corridors like the super heroes he sees darting around corners.  We see his imaginings of an arch villain taking hostage the enclosed inner city visualized like a floating snow globe.  The office interiors look like temporary structures and are photographed with no imagination.  Use of a French language cover of the Petulia Clark hit "Downtown" is a witty acknowledgement of its Canadian location.

"waydowntown" joins the likes of "Office Space" and "Haiku Tunnel" in the genre of cubie comedy.  It's a cute flick, but its small screen look makes it better suited for video.

B-

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.

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