Noah Reid and Melanie Leishman star in tepid Garden State wannabe Old Stock.
OLD STOCK (James Genn). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (May 31). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
When your film is inspired by Garden State, you're not aiming very high.
The influence of Zach Braff's quirky, empty debut is alluded to right from the opening of Old Stock, when Noah Reid's 20-something Stock Burton introduces us to the retirement home he lives in. He's sporting a sweater and shirt that matches the archaic wallpaper to a T, a visual gag à la Braff. Stuffed with as many oddities as its inspiration, Old Stock rings just as hollow.
Stock hides from life in that retirement home, occupying himself with the residents and their pastimes: mini-golf, playing cards and meds. He even plays the accordion, that clichéd signifier of a young man's peculiarity. You already know what comes next. He meets a girl (Melanie Leishman in a winning performance) with her own set of idiosyncrasies, and she nudges him out of his shell.
There's a tragic circumstance that broadly informs Stock's curious behaviour, and he's forced to deal with it, though not in any way that's sincere. Unfortunately, Dane Clark's screenplay is far too pedestrian to handle intense emotions or a meaningful character arc. He's better off focusing on the wallpaper.
This is the kind of script where characters literally spell out the film's themes for the audience, just in case we're not getting it, uttering unprovoked mantras like "Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional," or "Pencils have erasers, mistakes don't." That's almost as insulting as assuming we liked Garden State.