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Simon Read [Celluloid 07.02.13] Canada comedy drama

Meet Stock Burton. He's an amiable twenty-something who lives a simple life among the old-folks in his local retirement home. Acting as tour-guide, handyman and counsellor to the charming, wise-cracking fossils, he's lived two glorious years in peace and harmony with his wacky grandfather. However, when an act of vandalism performed by Stock's mysterious nemesis renders their beloved bird-table unusable, Stock is booted 'out of retirement' and must make his way into the real world. It's time for our hero to get a life, confront the past, and maybe even get the girl.

Years ago I was very ill with stomach pains but was socially obligated for some reason to see the film Juno with a friend. The film made me so angry that I forgot all about my illness, and instead of shaking with pain I was trembling with rage. I tell this story because it's the last time I can remember being so disgusted at a movie which treated its audience with such utter contempt. With Old Stock I got some serious deja vu, as director James Genn and writer Dane Clark have obviously been watching the back catalogue of Wes Anderson and Miranda July (a very, very dangerous combination) and have been taking notes. I suspect they also watched Garden State.

Picture a slow-motion sequence in which Stock, (Noah Reid, looking and acting for all the world like Michael Cera) dressed in golf attire - replete with plus-fours and flatcap - and joined by two of his elderly cohorts, walks purposefully down a corridor while soft indie-rock plays over the scene. Imagine our hero astride a mobility scooter, wearing a tea cosy on his head while riding down a suburban street with kooky local teenage aerobics instructor, Patti, sitting in a modified side-car. Later we'll learn that this charmless love-interest has had a 'bad past' and to prove it, I wrote down some of the dialogue in-between trying to eat my own face:

"My ex was really dreamy, but he totally made me feel *bad* about myself. I don't need someone who's going to make me feel *bad* about myself, I need someone who'll make me feel like I rule... because I rule!"

Yes, soon Patti and Stock will sit in a treehouse, drinking wine while picturesquely waving sparklers around in the night air. Patti will give Stock a mixed-tape of all of her favourite songs, and between the songs she will have recorded little messages - just for him! When the old folks back at the home hear about Stock and Patti, they offer him the sort of advice which can only come from deceptively filthy minds, "Squeeze a boob or two, Stock!" Oh, Christ, how I laughed.

Naturally there has to be come kind of plot mixed into all of this, so Stock tries to organize a raffle to fix the broken town monument (a large anchor - there's some deep symbolism for any film students watching) and in the process he has a brief falling-out with Patti, makes amends with an old school friend whom he crippled years ago (!) and helps reunite his estranged grandparents. During all of this sludge, the soundtrack gratingly tells us how to feel, with more feel-good indie tunes and hipster-rock. Oh, and I'll be damned if Grandpa Burton doesn't make a big speech at the end just to let everyone know that he's a rambling old coot and he doesn't care who knows about it!

I'm sure this kind of film appeals to somebody out there, but I couldn't stop thinking about all of the time, money and effort which must have gone into making this achingly affected and artificial piece of rubbish. I thought about the script meetings, casting sessions, location scouting, production design meetings, rehearsals and finally the gruelling process of shooting the film itself, then editing it and shopping it around to find a distributor who'll make hundreds of thousands of copies which will sit on shelves with glowing quotes on the front from critics who were suckered into liking it. I sat back...exhausted.

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Chris R (9 years ago) Reply

One of the great things to come from this dire-sounding film is this brilliant, brilliant review.


Shoemarx (9 years ago) Reply

I feel more angry than I did before I knew this film was out there.


Chris R (9 years ago) Reply

God, that sounds like one to avoid alright. The description of the soundtrack reminds me of a certain scene in Ghostbusters where Dan Aykroyd says “Listen! Do you smell something?” Yes, I do – the rancid stench of feel-good folksy indie rock.
- James Q


highlandfool (9 years ago) Reply

I don't even understand why this film has been reviewed on Quiet Earth as it doesn't seem to be a genre film in any way.


Raysyar (8 years ago) Reply

This writer needs to get some serious therapy. It's just a movie!

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