How’s this for a concept? Four silly Canadians make the most ludicrous bet imaginable: taking advantage of the interconnected world of downtown Calgary, where office buildings and apartment complexes and shopping centers are all linked through enclosed walkways high above street level, this idiotic quartet decide to wager a month’s salary on who can stay inside this enclosed environment without taking a step into the outside world.
Not much of a concept, is it? Well, “Waydowntown” is not much of a film. Writer/director Gary Burns offers a suffocating experience which is too boring to be accepted as a satire, too lame to be accepted as a farce, and too infantile to be accepted as a drama. What remains on-screen is a tiresome talkathon where a collection of obnoxious characters trade insults, whine endlessly on matters of no real importance, and set back the course of Canadian cinema a good 20 years.
“Waydowntown” is centralized in an office for an unspecified company. It would seem no work gets done here, as the characters seem to spend all of their time making nasty comments and trying to hurt someone else’s feelings. Central to the plot is marijuana-fueled Tom, played in a completely horrible performance by Fabrizio Filippo as a know-it-all wise-a*s with a snide remark for everyone. When he’s not hurling the sarcasm, Tom is either rambling on foolishly about superheroes or trying to turn on the non-existent charm and score with a giggly girl he spies in a food court. Tom serves as the occasional narrator to the film, but the character’s bile and meanness (not to mention the actor’s inability to raise a single laugh) become wearisome within minutes of his first appearance and spending 86 minutes with him constitutes cruel and unusual punishment aimed at a wronged audience.
Also in on the bet is go-getting corporate brown-noser Sandra (Marya Delver), who is way too old to be playing the goody two shoes routine with any degree of being convincing; Curt (Gordon Currie), a self-styled Lothario who radiates nothing in the way of sex appeal or charm; and Randy (Tobias Godson), who has no discernible personality and seems barely attached to this troop in the same manner that Zeppo trailed the other Marx Brothers.
By the end of the film, the enclosed foursome engaged in this bet can’t take it any more. This plot turn is perhaps the only time in “Waydowntown” when the audience and the on-screen characters have anything resembling a common bond. This sour film is too much of a bad thing, leaving the audience (like its characters) hungry for fresh air.
As a side note, much of the promotional material for “Waydowntown” emphasizes that the film was shot on digital video. Pity the cinematographer remembered to remove the lens cap.