Better In The Shade: Our Review of ‘Sundowners’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 25, 2017
Better In The Shade: Our Review of ‘Sundowners’

Thankless jobs are always just a little bit easier with your friends by your side…

While Sundowners plays on the sad sack motif of two friends trying to shake themselves out of a rut reasonably well, it just felt a little too familiar and awkwardly forced at times to really resonate on an emotional level.

We’re all familiar with those thankless jobs that we all come across in our lives, and filming a wedding is about as thankless as they come.  The problem for Alex (Phil Hanley) is that this is his career and it’s getting harder and harder to lie to himself that he’s a burgeoning filmmaker.  So when he gets the chance to go to Mexico on the job and take his best friend Justin (Luke Lalonde) as his assistant they both jump at the chance for an adventure to add a spark to their otherwise dull lives.  However with a freewheeling boss (Tim Heidecker) who can’t seem to send them to the right place, they’ll be lucky to even find the place much less shoot an event wedding that ends up being a lot more challenging than either of them had either imagined.

It’s a quirkily little character study of two guys at a crossroads who just can’t get out of their emotional ruts but Sundowners forces a little too much of the comedy that isn’t sure if it is trying to be gonzo or just incredibly dry.

Writer/Director Pavan Moondi is an effective storyteller as he has proven in the past with efforts like Diamond Tongues but it just doesn’t click here like you hope it would.  It’s a strong enough premise filled with enough goings on to keep us engaged as an audience but it keeps flip-flopping from above average character development to awkward and often mediocre jokes and comedic setups.   There was enough naturally funny about the scenario presented in front of us, but we didn’t need lame vacation jokes about missing wake up calls and getting hit by people who you really are not interested in.  The dynamic of watching these two guys , being fish in a barrel at an event wedding and interacting with whoever crossed their paths was enough for me and it would have been nice had we seen more of it.  Ultimately Moondi tries to give us a few too many layers of activity in this film when simpler would have been better.

Both Phil Hanley and Luke Lalonde are likeable enough as the friends navigating this awkward social situation, but the comedic elements just didn’t work.  Nothing clunked like a lead balloon but both actors felt a little out of their depths.  Writing comedy isn’t always the same as performing it and it ultimately showed, even though they both handled the more genuine emotional aspects of the story better than any of the comedy in it.  A few familiar faces like Tim Heidecker and Cara Gee round out the cast reasonably well but it was Hanley and Lalonde who carried it all and to be fair only carried about half the time.

There’s a compelling little movie inside Sundowners to be sure but had it been a little more organic with the comedy it would have felt just a little more memorable.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.