It’s a rather cruel irony when you don’t really get to know someone until after they’re gone. Even then, can you really reconcile any differences with someone who is no longer around to answer for the hurt and pain they’ve caused? Such a conundrum is faced in Colin Friesen’s Sorry For Your Loss.
Office drone Ken (Hangover’sJustin Bartha) has put his dreams of opening a gastropub on hold for the sake of his young family consisting of perpetually exhausted new mother Lori (Inbar Lavi) and their yet-unnamed infant son. When word arrives that Ken’s estranged father Andy (John Bluether) has recently passed on, the not-so-proud son is at first reluctant to attend the funeral, but ultimately decides to make the trip in order to make peace and move on.
Within hours of landing, Ken is informed by Andy’s old golf buddies Jeff (Bruce Greenwood) and Vince (Kids in the Hallalumnus Kevin McDonald) that his father’s dying wish is to have his ashes spread on the field of Winnipeg’s Investor’s Stadium. Accomplish this, and Ken stands to inherit the entire estate of $200k. Fail, and the money goes to the country club.
Newly motivated by the promise of a new nest egg, Ken quickly discovers that he perhaps should have begged for forgiveness than ask permission as stadium management will not allow him to legally dump the ashes due to health and safety concerns. Undeterred, Ken resorts to a series of increasingly outlandish schemes to gain access involving everything from a shady stadium employee to a more airborne solution. Along the way, Ken unearths some truths about his deceased father that cause him to question whether the old man really is worth all this trouble.
After spending 90-plus minutes of Justin Bartha as the lead, you can kind of see why he was left out of all the fun parts of the Hangoverfranchise. There’s simply very little to root for in his relentless sad-sack of a character. His scattered moments of dry humour do little to endear the audience to him or his mission. It doesn’t help that most of his supporting cast are one-dimensional cutouts who mostly fail to deliver even when they do show potential. The one real bright spot in the cast belongs to Bruce Greenwood whose lively portrayal of the politically-incorrect Jeff brings a surprising amount of charm to what should be an unlikeable character.
While most of the audience likely won’t notice, I once again have to slap some Canadian filmmakers on the wrist for not doing justice to their story’s setting. The film is ostensibly set in Winnipeg complete with Investor’s Group Field, Manitoba-esque licence plates (the name is obscured), and even song lyrics proclaiming a disdain for the city. Despite this, the distinct appearance of American currency plus the fact that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are never once mentioned by name despite their home field being a huge plot point simply reeks of attempting to appease an American audience by stripping away anything that would confirm the film’s Canadian cred. It would have been kinder to just plant the stars and stripes and be done with it.
Sorry For Your Loss has relatively little to recommend it beyond a few chuckles and a feather in Bruce Greenwood’s filmography. The film bypassed theatres down south where it ultimately found a home on the Showtime Network. Perhaps that’s where it belongs. It certainly ain’t worth the price of admission.
Sorry For Your Loss screens as part of Just For Laughs Film Festival on Tues Feb 19, 6:30pm @ Vancity Theatre.