Dir:Don McKellar. Can. 2004. 98mins
Followingup on his auspicious directorial debut Last Night, Don McKellar plungesinto a movie about movies focusing on a 12-year-old star and his circle offamily, reps and general hangers-on. While the territory has considerablepotential both dramatically and in humorous insights, McKellar fails to plumbits depths. The film has its moments but skims the surface, emerging as asuperficial and somewhat aimless sketch badly in need of shading and polish.
Butultimately its a film with nothing much to say. A paucity of commercial hooks(ironic considering the subject) bodes ill for its commercial future in Canadaand the tiniest of prospects for international sales.
Thetitular actor is Taylor Brandon Burns (Mark Rendall), star of a popularAmerican sitcom whose agents line up a high concept package for him to shoot inCanada during his series hiatus. Rick Schiller (McKellar), a perpetuallystruggling avant-garde filmmaker, has been hired as his driver and quicklyfinds himself involved with the boy's mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
Initialappearances paint the young performer as something of a monster capable ofoutrageous behavior and gross insensitivity. All too predictably it turns outhe's not really so bad, just acting out to get some attention and to mask theobvious insecurities he's confronting as he exits puberty.
Tomask the wafer-thin narrative, McKellar and co-writer Michael Goldbach toss incharacters and sub-plots to suggest a complexity that simply isn't in thescript. Rick's failing marriage and his wife's new boyfriend prove neitherinsightful nor humorous and the presence of a former child star in the filmwithin - who's been an erratic substance abuser - is an obviously exploitableparallel that's largely squandered.
Theworst of it is an elaborate charade to bolster Taylor's masculinity thatdescends into an implausible disappearance and meaningless search and rescueoperation.
Thefilm does score points for its depiction of a working set and the class politicsinvolved during film production. It also benefits from a top-notch cast withappealing performances from McKellar, Rendall and newcomer Kristin Adams andhas been handsomely mounted with production values far in excess of its modestbudget.
Prodco/int'l sales: Rhombus Media
Prods: NivFichman, Daniel Iron, Jennifer Jonas
Scr: McKellar,Michael Goldbach
Prod des: JohnDondertman
Ed: Reginald Harkema
Main cast: DonMcKellar, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Rendall, David Foley, Kristen Adams,Brendan Fehr