Published May 30, 2013Stockwell Burton wants to retire early. I mean, really early. Barely into his 20s, the polite young Canadian (Noah Reid) has already spent two years playing hermit crab in his grandfather's retirement home. To earn his keep, he conducts tours for prospective residents and handles maintenance and odd jobs around the grounds.
Since every movie seems to require an unlikely romance, a chance encounter with a quirky, cute pyromaniac (Melanie Leishman) doing community service as a dance instructor for geriatrics causes a small crack in the shell-shocked Stock's premature cocoon. Within five minutes, we can see the basic shape of where the story is ultimately headed.
Initially, television veteran James Genn's first feature film plays like your average forced-situational comedy: laugh while a healthy youngster shuffles around in an unflattering robe and plays cards with a couple of aged perverts on the prowl for "silver foxes." However, the hidden depths of Old Stock begin to be revealed after an act of minor vandalism targeted at the titular protagonist gives the old-timers an excuse to force him back out into the world to face his issues.
Peppered throughout these early scenes are references to a traumatic incident that drove him into seclusion. Once Stock is back in the community, he's treated as something of an urban legend, with references to a "giant anchor" serving to enhance the looming mystery of what caused his crippling fear. However, save for a few details, it's pretty easy to piece together what happened due to a few obvious visual cues.
Without losing sight of the film's primary goal as a slightly irreverent comedy — it's certainly not above a solid (or in this case, loose) poop joke — Genn (Todd and the Book of Pure Evil), working from Dane Clark's refreshingly unsentimental script, manages to make Old Stock work as a modest introspective drama as well.
Having something real to say about the uselessness of dwelling in the past or allowing oneself to become paralyzed by guilt over a random act of life is only enhanced by consistent, often subtle performances and Genn's use of forced-perspective to reinforce the supporting theme of encroaching modernity.
A score for team Canada (partly by virtue of not feeling or looking much like a typical Canuck flick), Old Stock is a pleasant and technically accomplished dramatic comedy that puts emotional catharsis before romantic entanglement. (eOne)