Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a teenager is hopelessly in love with a beautiful girl and signs up for some kind of feat to impress her. He trains for this event and trains some more. At least once, he loses faith, but along the way, he grows up a little, turns his bully into a friend, and in the end, gets with the girl who has been his friend the whole time.
If any of this sounds familiar, then Drinkwater won’t have that many surprises in store for you, at least when it comes to the plot. But, on the other hand, it has a good central performance, an incredibly Canadian take on the materials, and a delightful supporting performance from Eric McCormack.
McCormack and Daniel Doheny play Hank and Mike Drinkwater, a father and son living in Penticton, British Columbia. Mike is an awkward teen with few friends, thanks in no small part to his outsider father, Hank. Hank is a shut-in whose entire livelihood comes from insurance fraud, and he has become mildly paranoid about insurance agents finding him out. Next door lives Wallace, played by Louriza Tronco, a young woman who just relocated to small-town BC from a big American city.
I could outline the plot, but I am sure you will have guessed the broad strokes by now. Once again, while this means there are few surprises, the performances here keep the film unique and interesting enough that it doesn’t really matter. Additionally, the film is very Canadian, so much so that it comes right up to to the edge of caricature but doesn’t quite cross over.
This combination of tropes could easily have fallen into parody but manages to stay just reigned in enough to be cute. Doheny is good as the awkward teenager Mike, and McCormack has a great time with the material as the quirky father. Both play for laughs, both broad and specific, and both are good when the film asks them to do some borderline slapstick comedy, too.
So yes, Drinkwater won’t have many surprises in store when it comes to the plot, but it has enough in the performances, and that, along with the distinctly Canadian setting, make it worth your time.
Drinkwater is playing as part of the 2021 Whistler Film Festival. It plays again in person on December 12th and online from December 13th to 31st.
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