In The Moment Sandra Chwialkowska

High school kids make great documentary subjects; they are melodramatic, painfully awkward and unexpected things just fly out of their mouths. And these are just normal teenagers. The teenagers in In The Moment hone their comedic skills on a daily basis on their high school improv teams, in the hopes of competing in the extremely competitive Canadian Improv Games. Sandra Chwialkowska's debut documentary follows six teams from across Canada as they practice, prepare and finally compete in the National Championships in Ottawa. Though this is a doc about the games, the focus is primarily on the students, who have dedicated their lives to this wacky "sport." Though viewed by most as drama geeks, these teenagers are able to shed social stigma via improv, proving themselves possessed of tremendous intelligence, imagination and self-confidence that most adults only dream of. As the competition heats up we get to witness their skills being put to the test in front of a live audience. The teams must compete in five different categories (Story, Style, Character, Theme and Life) using suggestions from the audience to come up with original comedic scenes. The kids are incredible to watch but unfortunately there's not much tension created for a documentary revolving around a competition, as we don't see enough of the contest to be carried along with the subjects' enthusiasm. It's difficult to care about the scoring when the rules are never properly explained. Another problem is that characters introduced at the beginning as major players are forgotten about halfway through, and we never find out what happened to them after the curtain goes down and the stage is swept. The special features are fun but don't lend any new insights into the Improv Games. The "Film Noir Scene" is an extended look at one of the improvs performed by Lisgar School. It gives a much better picture of how difficult the competition is, as you see the team respond to the audience and each other, making creative decisions in mere seconds. It would have been great to have seen more of this in the film rather than as a side note. In "Gabe's World" we get a glimpse into the wacky mind of one of the funniest subjects in the film. Again, we don't see enough of him in the movie and this mini-doc further serves to illuminate the lack of character focus in the film. The features also include a few meagre outtakes and director's commentary. (Warner)