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Everything’s Gone Green (2006)

by on 2011/07/27

“Don’t they all kind of just blend into one big movie after a while?”

* * * *

I couldn’t believe it when Music World went out of business. I had no particular loyalty, but I’d taken it for granted, become accustomed. The stores had always . . . just been around. And now they wouldn’t be. If I wasn’t overjoyed or upset, it remained a bit of a shock.

So I began to browse them by the end of 2007. I found most of the deals in their Carlingwood store, but in St. Laurent I discovered this video, Everything’s Gone Green. My first thought was of the band, New Order, who’d released an early single with that title.

It wasn’t a New Order video.

Then again, I didn’t know it was Canadian content either. Its boasted festival run should have tipped me off: Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver were referenced on the box. Douglas Coupland was name-dropped everywhere.

The story concerns Ryan (Paulo Costanzo), a corporate drone who’s pushing thirty, and has just been broken up with, and also fired. When his next job feels like more of the same, he gets involved in a fraudulent scheme. Material success follows quickly, yet doesn’t make him as happy as his co-grifter’s girlfriend, Ming (Steph Song).

Thus described, the movie seems straightforward, even traditional. The bulk of it, however, is decorated with several subplots: Ryan’s friend and parents growing marijuana, his brother’s real estate, the banalities of his office job, and his hobby, photography. A whale, a granny, a lottery, and Vancouver’s film industry co-star.

Now it must seem surreal. Surprisingly, it’s not. At first I had my doubts, for it was quirky off the top. “I only ate eleven grams of fat last week”, one walk-on player non sequiturs. Ryan’s niece tells him she wants to be “a trophy wife” when she’s older. When he shows up for a writing job, he’s announced with “Noam Chomsky’s here.” Quirky and pretentious, no?

Although I had misgivings which never truly vanished, after a shaky start the piece grew stronger. Its grow-op and yakuza threads don’t serve as more than distractions and, overall, the whole has an Office Space vibe.

On the other hand, its score and soundtrack had me recalling One Week. Less funny than earnest in tone, it features a variety of homegrown artists, including standouts like Sloan, Raised by Swans, and Jason Collett. In fact, the latter contributes several of the tracks. His duet with Metric’s Emily Haines — “Hangover Days” — is my particular favourite here.

To be blunt, its marketing would have you believe it’s a stoner comedy, but I absolutely disagree that it is. Everything’s Gone Green balances the corrupting effect of “success” with an inversion of traditional values: the wannabe Bourgeois as heroic underdog. It’s unusually philosophical, despite its somewhat conventional quest for a happy ending.

No, it’s definitely not a stoner flick — early quirks aside — but an interesting dramedy about the stoner’s normal friend.

* * * *

Rated R for adult situations and language

95 minutes

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