The events, most of the dialogue, and the general tone of I, Challenger all point to it being a comedy. But writer Kara Scobey and writer-director Paul Boyd are trying to say something very raw and honest, transforming the offbeat story into a profound examination of one man’s pain and trauma. The problem is explaining how or why it is any of these things constitutes massive spoilers; I fear I’ve already said too much. As such, aside from this paragraph, discussions of most of the film’s deeper levels won’t be happening.
Sid (James Duval) is a fun-loving weed dealer who spends his free time playing video games with his only friend, Logan (Coy Stewart). The catch is that the two only know each other via their raids online. But, the real world soon comes crashing around Sid, as he learns the IRS has withdrawn nearly $3,000 from his bank account, leaving him unable to pay his bills. When complaining to Logan about his downturn of fortune, his friend tells Sid that he needs to just go with it and find some good luck.
“…enlists Logan to be his eyes atop, while Sid livestreams his 24-hour self burial for luck.”
The perpetually childlike Sid takes this to heart and starts leaving chance to fate. It starts off with small decisions, like choosing random numbers for the lotto. Then, while researching kismet and prosperity, he stumbles upon self-burials for luck. Sid becomes convinced that this is what he needs to do to turn karma onto his side entirely. To that end, he enlists Logan to be his eyes atop, while Sid livestreams his 24-hour self burial for luck. What could go wrong?
I, Challenger sneaks up on you, at first seeming to be nothing more than a good-natured stoner flick. But as the 98-minute runtime whizzes by, audiences find themselves actively caring and rooting for Sid. Maybe this is because he’s such a wide-eyed optimist, always finding the best in the people around him? Perhaps it’s because Sid’s belief that the self-burial will work for him is infectious? It might be due to Sid’s innocence and sweet, burgeoning relationship with Vanessa (Tina Majorino), who works at his favorite marijuana dispensary. It is, in fact, all of the above working in tandem through a stellar script, strong but subtle direction, and a perfect cast.
"…none of those awkward tone problems that plague so many other titles."