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By Mariko McDonald | August 17, 2008

There are character introductions, and then there are character introductions. And our introduction to Eric (Henry Dittman), the lead character of Jeff Orgill’s debut feature “Boppin’ At the Glue Factory,” is definitely one of the more memorable introductions seen in an indie picture. Waking up in a rusted-out beater of a car/home, Eric’s first act is to take to the streets of L.A. before traffic gets too bad. His second order of the day is to tie-off and hit a vein while driving. Which tells you a lot about the kind of person Eric is: multi-tasker, determined, persistent. And of course, junkie.

And just when he thinks he has dodged a bullet after getting stopped by a cop, he manages not to dodge Tharin Sanders (Conrad Roberts), elderly pot enthusiast and former jazz musician. Eric quickly scoops up Tharin and drives him back to his home, St. Joseph’s, a convalescence home whose state of severe disrepair is rivaled only by Eric’s car. Being that Eric is dressed in (admittedly filthy) scrubs, he is mistaken for an interviewee and having spotted a stash of his drug of choice, Dilaudid, decides to make the most of the opportunity and is hired on the spot as the night shift attending nurse.

Eric quickly makes himself indispensable, bluffing his way into creating a computer database of client records, although mostly he just cruises the internet for cybersex partners. He also makes friends with the residents by supplying them with bottled water, their drug of choice since day nurse Vladimir (Charles Santore) forbids water as it leads to his charges wetting themselves in one of the lamer recurring gags in the film. Tharin, being a chronic pot smoker, immediately calls Eric out for being a junkie. This leads to a bargain being struck between the two men, Eric agrees to keep the heat off Tharin and to let him play his music as loud as he wants when he wants and Tharin agrees to supply Eric with all the Dilaudid he needs. However, Eric, being the likable but not terribly trustworthy fellow he is, repeatedly fails at his end of the deal and is cut off by Tharin. To make things up to him Eric throws a surprise party and inadvertently creates a romantic connection between Tharin and the feisty Mary (Mews Small).

The short romance between Tharin and Mary is definitely one of the stronger points of the film and lends a good emotional core to a movie that also includes jokes about elderly people crapping themselves. While bodily functions are often hilarious in film, the plight of the residents of St. Joseph’s seems so bleak at times that bawdy humour seems unnecessarily cruel. Another lowlight is Vladimir’s rather dodgy Russian accent, which sadly adds an amateurishness that is otherwise lacking from the film.

Eric himself is an odd protagonist. While he is obviously touched by the conditions at St. Joseph’s, that doesn’t stop him from sleeping through calls or cashing in the social security checks of those who pass on his watch. His relationship with Tharin starts out looking like it could be transformative for our junkie slacker, but the end of the film finds him back up to his old tricks, keeping just that one step ahead of authorities needed to get to his next fix. But it is also refreshing to see a junkie portrayed for what he is, a man deeply in denial about his situation, but still functional enough to fool those around him.

Other highlights include the jazzy score by Dean Harada and Jason Moss, which keeps things clicking along at an enjoyable pace. Additionally, Roberts in particular stands out as Tharin, a man who knows his days are numbered but is determined to go out on his own terms.

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