Canadians have a reputation for being sweet, friendly folks. That’s probably why they weren’t able to break the truth to us about drug addiction and homelessness in David Ray’s “Fetching Cody,” an independent drama/sci-fi film from none other than our neighbors up north.
Jay Baruchel (“This is the End”) plays Art, the boyfriend of Cody (Sarah Lind). Art and Cody try to navigate life in the streets, which sometimes involves Art selling drugs or Cody working as a prostitute. Their relationship (which, aside from the crime and addiction, is just swell) is threatened when Cody enters a coma from a heroin overdose. Art uses a time machine (no DeLorean here â€” just a recliner with some Christmas lights) found by his homeless friend, Harvey (Jim Byrnes), to change Cody’s fate and save her life.
The film needed a bit of a character rewrite, considering that the time machine was the most believable thing there. For example, for having a relationship that involves drugs, hustling and desperation, Art and Cody sure find a lot of time to do twee things like chasing a balloon around the city and then playing soccer with it. Not that I want them begging for alms with sad piano music plaguing their every step, but their destitute life situation did not seem to bother them all that much.
Another issue is that Baruchel is not horribly convincing in his role as a street hustler. I can’t even make junior varsity tennis, and I’m convinced that I could mug him. As for Harvey, he exists simply to guide Art with his offbeat fortune cookie wisdom. You know when your parents give you age-old advice that will never help you, excusing them from accountability if you screw up? That’s Harvey’s dialogue. This movie, for the most part, treats drug addiction and homelessness like personality quirks instead of actual problems.
Continuing on that point, the dialogue is nothing special. There’s no memorable quote, nothing funny or profound, but the script is trying to give us these things. In the more intense moments of the movie, you can easily guess what the next character is going to say. The film desperately wants to shake a laugh or a tear out of the audience but can’t manage this with lackluster dialogue. I won’t divulge too much, but an exchange about pants from the future is the most quotable scene in the movie. The script is nothing horrendous, but you’ve heard it all before. It’s just bland and safe.
However, given the problems with the way these characters are written, the acting is pretty good. Baruchel and Lind are a believable couple and have nice chemistry. Although, on his own, Baruchel gives a shakier performance … mostly because he can’t manage to sit still. When he’s not rapidly blinking, he’s nodding. When he’s not nodding, he’s shaking his head in disbelief (I recommend that he find a different gesture for disbelief before he suffers from whiplash). Lind had less screen time than Baruchel, but her performance was more solid than his overall â€” and yes, I am referring to the parts where she’s not in a coma, smart alecks. In general, the actors did pretty well with their roles, despite not being given the best characters, even Baruchel the Bobblehead.
The story itself is actually interesting and fun to watch, despite all the issues the other aspects of the film present. Art trying to resolve the issues in Cody’s past to save her life draws the viewer in, and watching how each event shifts the future keeps you invested. On the whole, the film does a good job of progressing the story in both the past and the present timelines.
The only complaint I have in the story department is that it felt too short. There should have been more time spent focusing on Art and Cody’s relationship, because while Baruchel and Lind have good chemistry, that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t know much about the nature of their relationship altogether. Like an off-duty ice cream truck in the middle of summer, the story flies by unfairly quickly, but it manages to keep your interest for the time that it’s there.
In terms of technical aspects, the cinematography and sound have the feel of a standard studio film. There’s nothing stunning to be found, but it definitely accomplished the Sundance-meets-sci-fi feel that Ray was aiming for.
All in all, “Fetching Cody” is a fun watch with a myriad of flaws. It may not be the most incredible thing you see all year, but it’s worth a viewing if you’re looking for a cool time-traveling movie. Three stars.
â€” By Erin Penney