If I had to sum up what most stories are about in one word, it would be “underdogs.” Ultimately we go to the movies for a chance to see the unlikely succeed, as this is a fantasy rarely realized in real life. As far as real life underdogs go, they don’t get much lower than the Canadian feature film. This is why anytime one manages to get financed, completed and then actually distributed, those of us concerned with this kind of thing watch with trepidation because we know that a Canadian film getting a second week in theatres is like an amateur boxer making it to round two against the champ. This makes Moon Point an underdog story in every sense, and while it struggles in places, it ultimately succeeds, at least on the fluffy entertainment level.
Our protagonist is Darryl, a 23 year-old underachiever with the meanest family on earth. Determined to prove he can get a date for his cousin’s wedding, Darryl sees a call for extras in a B-horror film starring his childhood crush as a chance at redemption. To do this he has to travel several towns over to a place called Moon Point, and with no other mode of transportation, Darryl literally hitches his wagon to his only friend’s electric wheelchair. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this film is the idea of it being about the world’s slowest road trip, as it takes them days to cover what somebody with a car could have done in a couple hours. They quickly acquire the damsel in distress from the side of the road whom we know will ultimately come between them at some point.
While these three fresh faces do an acceptable job throughout the film, particularly Nick McKinlay in the lead, it’s the crazies they meet along the way that provide most of the laughs. The supporting cast is made up of an ensemble of Canadian talent whose names you likely wouldn’t recognize, (Art Hindle, Jayne Eastwood, Linda Kash, Laurie Elliott, Jessica Holmes, Christian Potenza, James Hartnett, anyone? Bueller?), their faces however have become familiar from dozens of commercials and comedy specials.
The writer commented that he was trying to capture the feeling of some of the John Hughes films he loved as a teenager, but I didn’t really get that vibe from Moon Point. The road trip aspect of it combined with the sometimes-too-broad humour reminded me more of a Farrelly brothers film, while the sugary ‘twee’ touches over-sentimentalized other parts. Needless to say there were several uneven tonal shifts, primarily caused by too much make-up/ break-up drama between the three main characters.
Unfortunately, like most real-life underdogs, this film will not overcome the odds and break into the mainstream, but at least first time distributor IndieCan is giving it a chance to be seen by some, most of whom I’m sure will get a kick out of at least a few parts, and that puts this one in the plus category of Canadian movies. It’s cuteness and romantic elements are well timed for Valentine’s Day and the holiday’s imagery is sprinkled throughout, let’s just hope Moon Point can still be seen by the time February 14th comes around, otherwise all of the above becomes a moot point.