The comedy of misfit quirkiness is a staple of the lower-budget indie universe, and by definition a Canadian standby as well. Ours is a smaller industry that makes cheaper movies driven more by script power than stars or spectacle, and so our attraction to likeable losers is not only necessary but natural. In showbiz terms, we’re a nation of small-timers both in fact and fiction, and it only makes sense we’d make movies like Old Stock, where a young man who hides from life in a retirement home is offered as a guy worthy of our unconditional emotional investment. Leave Iron Man to the big leagues. All our hero needs to fly is a sweater vest.
But darn if he doesn’t wear it well. When we first meet Stock Burton (Noah Reid), he’s offering an irony-free tour of the rest home where he lives with his sparky grandfather (Danny Wells), randy buddy Wendel (Gene Mack) and various ladies the guys winkingly refer to as “silver foxes.” Although still in his early 20s, all Stock really wants to do is live in the heat-controlled comfort of the home with the occasional sidewalk buggy trip off-site and permanent dining-room privileges – all because he can’t face something that happened in his past which left the purple-highlighted fox next door (Meghan Heffern) in leg braces and a wheelchair. So there’s darkness in them there perma-pressed Dockers, but as long as Stock’s safely stashed among the oldsters, he’s a perfectly likeable premature geezer who likes indoor putting and tending to the bird bath.
But you know his days in happy valley are numbered as soon as he sets sights on Patti (Melanie Leishman), a quirky young woman teaching dancercise classes as a community-service sentence for scorching an obscene message to a thoughtless ex on a vacant suburban field. In Stock she instantly sees a fellow oddball and likely soulmate, and the perfectly predictable remainder of Old Stock will involve getting both the boy out of the retirement home and the retirement home out of the boy.
Populated with winningly eccentric personalities (the odd-couple pairing of Reid and Leishman is especially appealing, in a mutually maladroit kind of way), chuckle-tickling one-liners and a universal conviction in the abiding but redeemable silliness of the human condition, Old Stock is an amiably warm celebration. Wear it like one of Stock’s sweater vests and stand for the national anthem.