Bang Bang Baby

Bang Bang Baby (Jeffrey St. Jules). 89 minutes. Opens Friday (August 21). See listings. Rating: NNN

Where to watch: iTunes

Jeffrey St. Jules’s Bang Bang Baby won the best first Canadian feature award at TIFF 2014. And no wonder. The stylish film shows the writer/director’s geeky appreciation of a certain type of period movie. It’s a shame the script and tone are a little off.

It’s 1963 in the small Canadian town of Lonely Arms, and Stepphy (Jane Levy) is a high school student/aspiring singer whose dreams of entering a New York talent competition are thwarted because she has to look after her drunken dad (a miscast Peter Stormare), himself a failed musician.

When her idol Bobby Shore’s (Justin Chatwin) car breaks down in town, Stepphy offers help (she’s also a mechanic) and puts him up at her house. Romance and a couple of duets ensue. Too bad a factory chemical spill is turning all the residents into mutants.

St. Jules’s script takes too many detours, and many plot points aren’t carried through. Sometimes the meta film jokes feel strained.

But he gets strong performances from the cast, who all channel 60s archetypes while maintaining their individuality. He has a great eye for composition, and Darren Fung and Richard Pell’s songs actually sound like they could have been hits.

Don’t be surprised if you leave humming the catchy title track.

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