Greetings again from the darkness. For those of us who spend entirely too many hours of our life watching movies, it’s always a welcome pleasure to stumble upon one that is creative and innovative and entertaining. The first feature film from writer-director Colin West is all that, plus it’s funny and touching and features some science. As an added bonus, it features the always great Jim Gaffigan in a dual starring role.
Mr. Gaffigan stars as Cameron, a middle-aged guy who writes, acts, and films an educational children’s science show for Public Access TV titled, “Above and Beyond”. Imagine a blend of Carl Sagan and Bill Nye the Science Guy. It’s a show he and his wife Erin (Rhea Seehorn, “Better Call Saul”) started together, but now she works at the local Air & Space Museum as the two await the finalization of their divorce.
Cameron has been waiting patiently for a preferred time slot, and one day his producer delivers news that’s both good and bad. The show is being picked up for distribution, but they have hired a new host. In what is anything but the oddest thing to happen so far in the story, Cameron can’t help but notice how much he and the new host look alike – although the personality differences are startling. It turns out the new guy bought the house right across the street from Cameron and Erin, and new guy has a teenage son, Marc (Gabriel Rush), who awkwardly befriends their daughter Nora (Katelyn Nacon).
When a satellite crashes in his yard, Cameron seizes the opportunity to become the astronaut he always dreamt of being by attempting to re-build the tangled mess into a custom rocket ship. Obviously I have left out many details in an effort to avoid spoilers for a story that is at times surreal, and can be best enjoyed going in cold. Other familiar faces appearing briefly in supporting roles include Tony Shalhoub, Amy Hargreaves, and Michael Ian Black. We have seen parallel universe films before, but filmmaker Colin West treats us to something a bit different. It may seem like a low-key affair, but “it’s not that simple.”
Narrative Feature Competition Category – SXSW