RUN ROBOT RUN! (Daniel O'Connor). 82 minutes. Screens Friday (March 23), 8 pm, at the Carlton as part of the Canadian Filmmakers Festival. See complete lineup in Indie & Rep Film listings, page 85. www.canfilmfest.ca, www.runrobotrun.com. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's hard to get a grip on the Canadian Filmmakers Festival, three days of features and shorts. Were these flicks that missed the TIFF cut? There aren't many big-name directors or actors involved, but I'm glad I watched Run Robot Run!, an endlessly amusing little low-budget sci-fi comedy.
Writer/director Daniel O'Connor takes a simple premise - office worker seeks vengeance on the humanoid robot that replaced his job - and fleshes it out with smart writing and winning performances. Imagine The Office set in the not-too-distant future.
In O'Connor's sterile-looking world, lattes or small orders of fries are enormous, and people wrestle in outfits that resemble huge oven mitts. The romantic comedy plot follows a predictable path and intersects a buddy story, but there's lots of inventiveness along the way.
What makes it especially gratifying is seeing long-time comic and frequent Fringer Chris Gibbs on the big screen. His unique style of deluded Brit twit humour works wonderfully here, and he's got great rapport with co-worker Christian Potenza, who gets to show off some low-tech but high-laughs inventions.
Look for scene-stealing moments by other local comics, including Renee Percy as a harried worker and Sandy Jobin-Bevans as a smarmy, perma-tanned motivational speaker.