This might be the only time I say this, so make a note of it for future reference, but the story saves this from failing as a film. Usually, my attitude is that story is dead last in importance. I feel that plot, characters, dialogue and pacing are much more essential aspects of a book or movie.
In this case however, I’ll make the rare exception. Because without the story you’re left with… well, you know… Nothing.
The film has Canadian Film Pacing (Read: slow), a plot stretched to its limit, minimalist dialogue and very blah characters. It survives solely because the premise is so interesting. What would happen if you hated the world so much that you could make it go away forever?
Andrew and Dave are the sort of guys that no one wants to turn into after high school or college. They’re single, live together in the same messy house and play videogames during their free time. However, this isn’t paradise, they’re single because they’re creeps, they live together in a messy house because they’re poor and have no cleaning skills and they play videogames all day long because they don’t have the imagination to think of something better to do. Delta House this is not.
Andrew is a neurotic agoraphobe who works as a travel agent from home. Dave is one of those accountant white collar types who works a dead end job. I’d call them nerds, but nerds are smart.
On the day that Dave is about to move in with a woman he’s known for two weeks several events occur: Andrew is accused of kissing a girl scout, Dave himself is accused of embezzling 27 thousand dollars from his work, and the house they share is about to be demolished by the city because it’s 10 feet away from an overpass. Uh-oh.
They have until 3pm that day to get the hell out.
Things get out of control quickly, and come to a head when the deadline arrives. There’s a SWAT team moments away from bursting through the window. The bulldozers are revving their engines. The cops are waiting outside to arrest them both the minute they either come out or are taken out. People are screaming for their blood.
Both men are seconds away from losing everything. Lights, noise, smoke, explosions… Andrew and Dave are terrified.
But then, silence.
They look outside and it’s all gone, the whole world. Instead, there is nothing. Literally.
The film has quite a bit of top notch cinematography and set decoration. Terry Gilliam is definitely being channeled at times and both the humor and situation remind you of the ex-Python’s oeuvre. However, it encounters problems with the characters. They’re just not interesting and you can’t empathize with them. Here you have something momentous occurring and it’s happened to Bob & Doug McKenzie’s slower cousins. You just want to strangle these two guys every minute they’re on the screen and the fact that (after the first ten minutes) they are the only two people in the entire film makes this a slight problem.
There’s also the problem that the film doesn’t seem to have a point to make. These two guys make the world disappear, that’s it. I’m sure there’s subtext in there somewhere, but I wasn’t able to decipher it with dumb and dumber acting as my only guides to this story. Also, it’s not like director Vincenzo Natali hasn’t made claustrophobic sci-fi films that function as metaphors before. He made “Cube”, which is an excellent film. “Nothing”, is well… nothing like that.
But I’m being a little hard. There is quite a bit to enjoy here if you’re willing to accept the pacing and the weird humor and the fact that this is a VERY Canadian film. If you like weird-O-rama Canadian stuff like “Twitch City” or “Trailer Park Boyz” you might enjoy this quite a bit. I just couldn’t get past the characters.
There is also a simple test you can perform to figure out if this movie is for you. Ready? Here goes: At Mike’s workplace there’s a little in-joke where John Bigboote is called over the PA system. Do you know who John Bigboote is? If the answer is yes, then you might have a fine time watching this. If the answer is no, then you’re better off watching… well, you know…