'Sadie's Last Days on Earth'
Did you know that being a teenager comes with overblown emotions? Well, how about this: an apocalyptic teen comedy – the usual high school giggly fun time only with that apocalypse thing to serve as a minor metaphor for all those raging hormones and outstretched feelings that make it seem like the world will end at any moment. With a little luck, there will even be some of that overly florid and snappy dialogue that has plagued these movies since ‘Juno’. Gosh, dare we to dream so big?
Morgan Taylor Campbell stars as a high school sophomore filled with all the angst and anxiety that defines her age. Sadie’s raging emotions are slightly more heightened than average, though. Thanks to a school assignment, the girl has decided that the world is absolutely positively going to end and has started preparing for the apocalypse accordingly. She has even decided to line up a bucket list of all the unanswered dreams in her teen life, including patching things up with a best friend (Clark Bako) and kissing a boy (yikes!). She also has one of those high school teachers (Paula Brancati) with a way of doling out life lessons on the regular, has a wacky classmate (Munro Chambers) who wants to throw a pre-apocalypse party, and meets a boy (Ricardo Hoyos) who is unexpectedly all nice and supportive ‘n stuff. Plus, she is obviously also friends with a local army surplus owner (George Stouboulopoulos, who is apparently an actor now), a gentle loon who’s equally obsessed with the apocalypse. Let the quirky comedy and life lessons begin!
‘Sadie’s Last Days on Earth’ was clearly written in the wake of ‘Juno’ and waited on production money for nearly a decade. The movie makes references to the December 21st Mayan apocalypse thing, even though that passed in 2012. Everything is glazed in a candy-color coat to signify that it’s supposed to be fun. The dialogue is aggressively snappy to let people know the jokes should be clever. There aren’t any stabs at anything remotely resembling adult themes, though. This is all pure fluff with the very mention of the apocalypse apparently supposed to add some sort of edge to a syrupy pile of teen silliness. Writer/director Michael Seater is clearly trying to charm the pants off audiences with a cutie pie crowd-pleaser for teens and ‘tweens. He’s just trying way too hard. Buttons are pushed to the point of exhaustion. It never feels like a movie anyone was particularly passionate about, just something that sounded commercial because it’s like other things that were successful.
All being said, this isn’t a total disaster. The cast pulled from ‘Degrassi’ and various other Canadian pop culture sources are all sweet, sincere, and at least somewhat charming. A handful of jokes actually work, and the central correlation between uncontrollable teen emotions with fears of the world literally coming to an end is pretty clever. Unfortunately, the movie is far too many steps removed from reality and sunk into Quirksville for that theme to register like it should. The flick is just trying far too hard to be silly, quirky and kooky in a self-satisfied way that never digs beneath the surface or lands in a funny enough place to justify all the overblown wackiness. Still, at least it’s sweet and has heart. The movie wasn’t made from a place of cynicism. If anything, this apocalyptic teen comedy really could have used some cynicism.