Young Adam (Stasco) is a distant, thoughtful and seemingly troubled guy. As we fade into the funny and poignant “Things to Do,” we catch up with him is at his last day at work in a fairly crummy looking office job. While nothing is really spelled out it’s clear something bad has happened and as a result, Adam is going back home to live with his parents. Once there some light is shed on Adam through his interactions with his ineffectual and odd dad (McManus) and passive-aggressive mom (Oke) still Adam seems satisfied to spend his days hanging around the house where he grew up. That is until he bumps into old acquaintance Mac (Wilson) who’s apparently trapped, as if in liquid amber, in the mind and body of a fifteen year old. Goofy Mac inspires Adam to experience life and soon they set out to do the things they always wanted to do.
The two men strike out on adventures mapped out by a list Adam has made that includes starting a band and making a soap box derby car. These funny scenes are cross-cut with flashes on Adam’s life in the big city and through them we gain insight into what drove Adam back home. Here’s a hint; it’s not what I thought it would be and I doubt you’ll guess either. While Mike Stasko’s Adam plays the reigned-in straight man, Daniel Wilson’s Mac provides the comedy gas that makes the engine go. He’s one of those great characters that you relate to but still don’t trust enough to think they won’t screw everything up in the end. Across the board the acting, writing and story are top notch, especially for appears to be a really low budget film. Yet there’s also an issue (or flaw) I had with the film that I just can’t let go of no matter how I may try.
“Things to Do” is a funny, charming, sad and thoughtful film but there are so many glaring similarities to other movies of it’s kind (ie; “Garden State,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Rushmore”) I found it distracting and extremely frustrating. See, I feel as though one can be influenced by the aforementioned films as far as writing, genre and acting go but if you’re going to let the visual style of Wes Anderson and Jared Hess seep into your film coupled with those things, you’re just asking for comparisons. The thing that’s so frustrating about that equation is, “Things to Do” is clever and quirky enough to do it’s own thing.
Heck, if director Ted Bezaire would have set out to do something a little different visually, we could be looking at a new break-out cult hit. As it is, I can’t help but think the film will be thought of as “the film that was like Wes Anderson doing “’Garden State.’” At least that’s how I kept perceiving it and that’s unfortunate because I found myself being brought out of my mental movie comparison note taking by some truly hilarious scenes and bright, yet sensitive acting. I can’t wait to see what the folks behind this film come up with next because I think they’ve got what it takes to really break into the mainstream. “Things to Do” is a much better film than the one it strives to look like, the filmmakers just need to find their own vision to match their unique voice.