28 October 2007 | howard.schumann
Too slight and conventional
A 29-year old slacker discovers his hidden obsession with making money in the Canadian low-budget Everything's Gone Green, a film by Paul Fox that has nothing to do with the physical environment, only the environment inhabited by our souls. Written by Canadian author of Generation X fame, Douglas Coupland, the film shows Vancouver, British Columbia as it was meant to be seen, not a stand-in for Los Angeles but as a vibrant multi-cultural city filled with exquisite parks, bays, and mountains. Coupland smartly attempts to have us appreciate the difference between things that are real and things that are made to look real but the film is undone by contrivances and ludicrous subplots such as parents growing pot in their basement, a boss allowing workers to gather around a computer to watch porn, and an office cruise from hell that give it the air of a bad television sitcom.
Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) is a 29-year old Technical Writer living with his girl friend Heather in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. In one bad day, he loses his job, is kicked out of his girl friend's apartment, and discovers that his father has lost his job of twenty five years. To top that, he is called home only to find out that his parents were mistakenly convinced that they won the lottery. Soon Ryan is back on his feet, however, with a job working for the BC Lottery Board taking pictures and interviewing lottery winners for a supermarket throwaway magazine. Good fortune also surfaces the same day when his brother, a real-estate mogul, offers him a free condo in a high-rise overlooking English Bay.
After Ryan hears on the radio that a whale has beached on English Bay under the Burrard Bridge, he drives over to have a look, telling people around him that he went because he wanted to believe that magical things can happen in life. At the beach, he strikes up a conversation with Ming (Steph Song), a set dresser for a film studio whose job is to change Vancouver into a U.S. city such as Phoenix or Los Angeles to appeal to the American market. It is not long before Ming's boyfriend Bryce (JR Bourne), a sleazy scam operator, invites the gullible Ryan into playing golf with him and succeeds in convincing him to use the information he obtains from the Lottery Bureau to engage in a money laundering scheme involving the Japanese Yazuka. Ryan, contrary to the values he expressed earlier, discovers the drive to make money at whatever cost is more persuasive than he thought but it seems out of character and is unconvincing.
In the vein of formulaic romantic comedies, an on-again off-again love interest develops between Ryan and Ming but there is little chemistry between the two and when she dumps the corrupt Bryce, she is in no mood to take on another relationship with another ethically-challenged individual. Everything's Gone Green is a pleasant film with some good in jokes about leaky condos, lottery winners, and Hollywood productions with artificial palm trees, but ultimately it is too slight and too conventional to really hit its targets with much impact. Sadly, the sharp writing of Coupland, excellent performances from Canadian actors, and the visual delights of Vancouver do not add up to a totally winning combination.