Citizen Duane Michael Mabbott

It would seem at this writing that the Canadian theme of TIFF ’06 is "the futility of action.” Film after film has suggested that various activist figures would have been better off just letting power run its course, including this mild teen comedy that undercuts its lead at every turn of the screw. That hero is Duane Balfour (Douglas Smith), a high-school outcast who resents the influence of the local bully’s family on municipal politics. Despite having nothing more than a grudge and the will to be a spoiler, he decides the only thing to do is run for mayor against the bully’s mother. This would work out fine if A: he weren’t completely inept and B: his father hadn’t been a mad prophet who wound up shot by police. The film hangs together reasonably well and is even occasionally funny, but it’s hard not to overlook the defeatist agenda that whittles away at our respect for the hero. Though he’s got a memorable loser uncle in indie stalwart Donal Logue, it gets a bit irritating to be trapped in a box with someone we’re not supposed to actually respect, an annoyance capped off by the un-pep talks of mother Alberta Watson and teacher Viveca A. Fox. While you can watch the movie and not be terribly hard done by, my guess is that you’ll be a tad miffed at the finger-wagging about personal modesty that the filmmakers dish out. Just once, I’d like to see a homegrown picture where the protag has a cause that is right and the will and support to carry out his or her ten-point plan for success. Needless to say, this ain’t that movie. (Th!nk)