Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
Things To Do film reviewTHINGS TO … DON’T!
DVD Review
by George Deming
published May 10, 2007
Things To Do
directed by Ted Bezaire
85 minutes
Can you guess any of these films?:
1 – A young twenty-something, out of school, out of a job and unsure what to do with his life, floats on a raft in a swimming pool.  We see him from a bird’s eye view, the water sparkling and clear blue, as he drifts through the frame.  It’s a recurring image throughout the film.
2 – Unsure of the direction his life is taking, a young twenty-something returns to his home town, reconnects with people from his past, and learns something about himself.  Soothing contemporary indie rock music flows throughout the film.
3 – A young twenty-something nebbish works in an office.  Things go wrong.  Shenanigans ensue.
4 – A nerdy, somewhat dorky young twenty-something goes day by day through life in his remote town.  He has a hang-dog look, feels clumsy and awkward, and is too shy to boldly approach the girl he’s attracted to.
Desperately grabbing for inspiration and imagery from such films as “The Graduate,” “Garden State,” “Office Space” and “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Things To Do” follows two independently wealthy young twenty-something slackers in Canada who take it upon themselves to make a list of things they want to do before they die, and begin doing them.  Among the things is “make a great movie.”  The irony is unbearable when they cross it off their list.
We tend to get angry at Hollywood for churning out bad film after bad film, and point to our favorite indie movie, perplexed at why they can’t spend less money to make a better product.  “Things To Do” is a reminder that most independent films are equally terrible.  The budgets may be smaller, and the contents may be quirkier, but the cluelessness of how to create interesting stories with interesting characters is equally epidemic.
It is a comedy, although one’s heart sinks for good early in the film when Adam (played by co-writer / co-associate producer / co-composer / co-editor Michael Stasko), having shunned the big city and just getting off the bus back in his hometown, ever so unconvincingly trips and falls on his luggage.  It is painfully unfunny.  Not all of the comic moments are such huge misfires, but the tone has been set.  The storytelling is equally uninspired.
Things To Do film reviewOn the bright side, the two lead actors are engaging and likeable.  But Daniel Wilson as Mac, the wacky young twenty-something friend, proves why light-haired actors should not wear beards.  I’m not anti-facial hair at all, but, except in close-up, it reads on film as a distracting, indistinct blotch on his face.  Wilson is funny and goofy, though there are plenty of moments that simply don’t work in the same way as Stasko’s luggage tumble.  Stasko, for his part, pretty much nails the role of a particular kind of character:  charming but subdued, introspective, slightly depressed, put upon, someone who only speaks when he must, never because he actually wants to.  Unfortunately, it’s not a lead-quality character, and although his acting is fine, he drags down a film that needs all the buoyancy it can get.
As characters, Adam and Mac don’t score any points for empathy when we find out that their ennui is partially the result of being financially secure rich kids … who get annoyed at the less fortunate when it is questioned how they are able to afford the best of everything.  Ouch.
“Things To Do” is uncompromisingly sluggish;  never truly engaging, it merely plods through its 85 minutes of lifeless, lackluster scenes.  The actors and filmmakers will be able to make short reels of their work which, taken out of context, will look impressive and help them land future work.  But let’s hope they wander into a screenwriting class before their next go-round.  As an audience member, you are bereft of any benefits of this film’s existence.
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