One of the most memorable scenes from “Trainspotting” (Danny Boyle, 1996) begins when Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) narrates that “heroin makes you constipated.” He speaks those words so matter-of-factly, suggesting that he can prepare for the day that he’ll have to haul himself to a bathroom. Renton even fantasizes about “brilliant gold taps, virginal white marble,” and “a seat carved in ebony.” The main character in Dave West’s comedic short “Puddlejumper” isn’t so fortunate, at least not in the realm of anticipating a bathroom run (no pun intended). Edward (Scott MacDonell) is an American tourist on his way back from Mexico. Before going to the airport, Edward stops at a bar for a tequila—worm and all. This drink becomes his heroin. It doesn’t constipate him, but it leaves him with the need to go. To his detriment, there is no lavatory on the plane.
Anyone can relate to Ed’s dilemma. Be it food, drugs, or general anxiety, there are times when you’ve got to get to a bathroom. As Ed debates if he should just soil his pants (in front of people he’ll never see again) or if he should just hold it another hour, you’re practically in that hot and stuffy plane with him. You sweat as he sweats, pant as he pants, and grimaces alongside the agony that is etched on his face. Such immediate identification is not only the result of situational familiarity, but it’s also the product of good filmmaking.
As soon as Ed realizes his bowels are on the accelerated move, he becomes very jittery and then hallucinogenic. A flashback to the tequila and images of a pristine toilet in the desert intercut with Ed squirming in his seat create a sense of suspense. It’s no Hitchcock moment, but as a viewer, you’re still concerned about what Ed will do. Should he stay or should he go? I’ll divulge this much: he won’t have to dive into the toilet to retrieve anything that fell out during evacuation procedures. Winner of the Best Comedy award at the 2003 Ft. Meyers Film Festival and Best Comedy award at the 2002 Arizona International Film Festival, “Puddlejumper” teaches that one should never consume a beverage if the bartender has to leave the premises to gather ingredients.
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