'Sundowners': Film Review
Two hapless videographers run into trouble while shooting a Mexico destination wedding in Pavan Moondi's comedy.
Exuding such a relaxed feel that it's not surprising that its title doesn't appear onscreen until nearly the half-hour mark, Sundowners never strains too hard for its considerable laughs. Depicting the misadventures of a pair of bumbling videographers assigned to shoot a destination wedding in Mexico, Pavan Moondi's low-key comedy has a plotline that wouldn't be out of place in a mainstream Hollywood effort. But this Canadian indie mostly avoids the sort of vulgarisms attendant to films of that ilk, displaying a slyly droll humor that proves consistently engaging.
The plot concerns thirtysomethings Alex (comedian Phil Hanley) and his best friend Justin (Luke Laldonde, lead singer of the Canadian band Born Ruffians). Alex, an aspiring filmmaker, makes ends meet by working as a wedding videographer for a sleazy boss (Tim Heidecker, of the comedy duo Tim and Eric) who has a nasty habit of not paying him.
When Alex is offered the chance to film a wedding in Mexico, he decides to take advantage of what he sees will at least be a free beach vacation offering the promise of booze and babes. He enlists his buddy Justin, who works a dead-end office job, to serve as his assistant despite the fact that he barely knows how to operate a camera.
After taking their first-ever plane trip, a milestone that Alex notes with bitterness, the pair quickly find themselves coping with numerous logistical problems upon arriving in Mexico. They also have to deal with a wedding party that includes the groom, Mike (Nick Flanagan), who's terrified that his beautiful bride Jenny (Cara Gee) will bolt once she finds out he's recently gone bankrupt; the best man (Nick Thorburn), who's in love with Jenny and is determined to break up the wedding; Jenny's sex-starved sister (Jackie Pirico); and Jenny's flamboyantly gay father (David John Philips), who immediately sets his sights on Justin.
With the exception of such moments as a blistering encounter early in the proceedings between Justin and his ex-girlfriend (Leah Faye Goldstein) when she asks him for money to pay for an abortion that he didn't even know she had, Sundowners lacks the uncomfortable edginess of Moondi's last (co-directed) effort, the acclaimed Diamond Tongues. But this film manages to capture millennial angst in subtle, darkly funny fashion. Expertly delivering Moondi's sharp comic dialogue, the two leads, both making their screen acting debuts, make their characters' haplessness surprisingly endearing, while such supporting players as Heidecker and Pirico prove adept comic scene stealers. The film's tech credits are suitably modest for such a low-budget effort, with Colombia convincingly standing in for Mexico.
Production companies: Carousel Pictures, Daylight on Mars Pictures, January Films
Distributor: Factory 25
Cast: Phil Hanley, Luke Lalonde, Tim Heidecker, Nick Flanagan, Cara Gee, Jackie Pirico, Nick Thorburn, David John Philips
Director-screenwriter-editor: Pavan Moondi
Producers: Brian Robertson, Tyler Levin, Julia Rosenberg
Executive producers: John Bain, Julia Rosenberg, Tyler Levine, Brian Robertson, Diana Bustamante, Jorge Andres Forero, Mejia Paola Perez
Directors of photography: Scott McClellan, Peter Dreimanis
Production designer: Brian Robertson
Costume designers: J. Lindsay Bell, Camila Botero
Composer: Nicholas Thorburn