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Pavan Moondi mines hilarious comedy from tale of doofuses in oddball situations
SUNDOWNERS (Pavan Moondi). 95 minutes. Opens Friday (August 25). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Pavan Moondi’s Diamond Tongues, which he co-directed with Brian Robertson, was an uncomfortable comedy about a young woman (Leah Fay Goldstein) compulsively undermining her career as an actor. It’s on Netflix. It’s really good. You should check it out.
Going solo with his follow-up, Sundowners, Moondi is still working the vein of uncomfortable comedy, but this time his characters aren’t so much self-destructive as constantly being destroyed.
Alex (Phil Hanley) works as a wedding videographer for a Toronto fly-by-night operator (Tim Heidecker) assigned to shoot a Mexican destination wedding, he enlists his pal Justin (Luke Lalonde, of Born Ruffians) to assist, despite the fact that Justin has no idea how to use a camera. But hey, a working vacation is a working vacation, right?
Sundowners takes its time revving up, but once it gets going it’s a low-key pleasure as Alex and Justin run into one oddball situation after another – an oversharing groom (Diamond Tongues’ Nick Flanagan), a predatory father of the bride (David John Phillips), a poolside seduction that goes sideways in the worst way.
Moondi loves the moment when awkwardness turns to panic, and Hanley and Lalonde are really good at drawing that moment out to excruciating lengths. But keep an eye on Cara Gee as the enthusiastic bride-to-be also Diamond Tongues’ Goldstein turns up for one solid early scene.
And if Diamond Tongues was compassionate about its self-destructive protagonist, Sundowners knows its heroes are dolts – inept with women, sloppy with their equipment, terrible at arranging wake-up calls. They’re doofuses but at least they’re trying, so we root for them to carve out one tiny victory somewhere, even though we know that’s probably not going to happen. But we can still laugh.