40 is the New 20
- Written and directed by Simon Boisvert
- Starring Pat Mastroianni, Claudia Ferri and Bruce Dinsmore
- Classification: 14A
Who knew that Gen-Xers now had grey hair and balding pates, played golf and complained about divorce settlements? They didn't get the middle-aged press that baby boomers got, and somehow, the whole category seemed to have gently slipped away from the media spotlight. Not wholly a bad thing, judging by 40 Is the New 20 , a painful putative comedy from Montreal director Simon Boisvert.
The introduction establishes separate voice-overs from Gary (former Degrassi star Pat Mastroianni) and Jennifer (Claudia Ferri) mulling their status as Generation Xers, compromising their way into middle age. The two dated in high school before going their separate ways. Jennifer had a baby shortly after, and is now a single mom at 40. Gary is a passive-aggressive type who spends most of his time with his buddy Simon (Bruce Dinsmore), a porn-addicted, old-style chauvinist who sees dealing with women as a necessary evil in the pursuit of sex.
Gary and Jennifer reconnect through a social-networking site and a common friend. Gary is apologetic about his youthful bad behaviour: "I was young, stupid, selfish. I did what I wanted and I took our relationship for granted." All this seems a bit excessive for a postmortem on puppy love, but then nothing about Boisvert's first English-language film feels based on observed reality.
To be mercifully brief, Gary offers Jennifer a job at his stock-broking company. She accepts, and soon falls in with long-married colleague Cindy (Diana Lewis) and resident misogynist Simon, who offer contrasting arguments about the virtues of marital companionship versus serial hot sex. When Gary begins eagerly pursuing Jennifer again, she shoots him down with a line of English-in-translation dialogue that would make any guy grateful for escape: "If you don't mind, I'd like to come home to my boyfriend with some butterflies in my stomach."
Scene follows scene without either comic logic or psychological probability. At some point, the story unexpectedly transforms into a Neil LaBute-style drama, without the wit. Simon and Gary begin stalking Jennifer and hacking into her computer and cellphone, trying to prevent her from establishing relationships with other men. The plot digresses into Jennifer's attempts at speed dating and Internet hookups, as Gary puts himself into an escalating jealous frenzy. (You may be tempted to roll back the film to find the point where his behaviour can be explained by a head injury or demonic possession; it must be a missing reel.)
Then, unexpectedly, the voice-over monologues recur, with characters offering insights that no one has earned. Charmless, aimless and a waste of a cast that, in other contexts, has done good work, 40 Is the New 20 is the new zero.