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Cranky Critic® movie reviews:

Last Night

Starring Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Sarah Polley, Callum Keith Rennie, David Cronenberg and Genevieve Bujold
Written and Directed by Don McKellar

IN SHORT: Best left unseen [Rated [R], 69 minutes]

If one must see only one Canadian film this year . . . wait until next year and hope to see two better films than Last Night, a production that approaches the quality of middle echelon college flicks. Meaning? Last Night should've stayed on the festival circuit or the Sundance Channel.

At minimum, I'll give writer/actor Don McKellar credit for trying to stretch himself as a director. While his first effort, Last Night, may have been good training for what it takes to be a director, it has all the looks of a fair to middling senior student project. All the interesting stuff is tied up in the script, which, as with his work on The Red Violin, shows where his strengths lie.

The concept is good: What would you do if the world was about to end? No hope of salvation. No Bruce Willis to blow up his spaceship and save the day. It's an idea fit for Millenium Fever, but the execution is uninteresting.

McKellar's characters cover a good range of reaction save one: panic. Patrick (McKellar) just wants to be alone, though he does suffer through a final Christmas dinner with his family, unwrapping "presents" of discarded toys of Christmas past. His sister Jennifer (Sarah Polley) wants the dinner over with so she can go and party like there's no tomorrow -- picture New Year's Eve in Times Square. The ball drops. Everybody dies.

There's Sandra (Sandra Oh) whose efforts to get home for a murder-suicide pact with her husband go astray when a mob trashes her car. It's a long walk home, during which she meets Patrick and a sort of friendship is formed. Patrick brings her to his best friend Craig (Callum Keith Rennie) who has cars to spare. Craig also has a detailed chart of every sexual activity, position and partner type that he can think of, and is working his way down the list to the very end. Duncan (David Cronenberg) works at the gas company, and calls every customer to let them know that the gas will still be on all the way to the end. That's about as clever as the film gets. Cronenberg's name should ring some bells with you, as should French actress Genevieve Bujold, who has a small part as one of the checkboxes on Craig's list.

All the while, an elderly marathoner runs through the empty streets yelling out how much time is left at the top of her lungs. On the radio a DJ is playing the "Greatest 500 Songs Of All Time," including timeless tunes by Burton Cummings, the DeFranco Family, The Looking Glass and Edward Bear. The songs alone would be enough to make any music lover put a pistol in the mouth, but Last Night is a Canadian film and that's Canadian content. The song list doesn't even come off as a sly bit of satire, that's how remarkably unemotional and ineffective this flick is.

Last Night has the look of a 16mm shoot blown up to 35, on out of date stock. That may have been intentional, to visually represent something, but Cranky ain't smart enough to figure that out. It looks like a student film. Its actors have very little idea of what they're supposed to mean in the big scheme of things. Cranky will ignore the special effects part of his brain that says: how is the Earth going to die? Is it falling into the sun? Is it getting hit by an asteroid? Where are the gravitational effects? because the budget is too low to pay for 'em.

Actually, the budget is too low to pay for much of anything. There's little emotional conflict of any kind in the family scenes (has the government spiked the water supply with valium?) and no character performance in the overall story to sympathize with. Last Night is the kind of flick fit for obscure film festivals where prizes are given as freely as pats on the backs for getting the product made.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Last Night, he would have paid...


Cranky liked McKellar's writing in Red Violin, though there was a collaborator. Didn't like it here. Didn't believe the characters. Didn't believe the situations. Doesn't believe you should spend your cash.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.