Review: A LEGACY OF WHINING
Like the first page of a book, the opening scene of a film sets expectations for what’s to come in the rest of the movie. The first few minutes of Ross Munro’s A Legacy of Whining show brightly manicured hands donning flashy jewelry in the process of making a smoothie. And while the film doesn’t necessarily ever circle back to the fruit smoothie in the opening scene, the arbitrary nature of it certainly matches what’s to come.
An aspiring actor, Mitch (Munro), reunites with his high school best friend, Dunc (Robert David Duncan), for the night after 30 years apart. After a quick and disappointing trip down memory lane the pair finds themself in a paramilitary bordello, much to Mitch’s dismay as he has a big audition in the morning.
While understated humor is both topical and sharp, watching a film that feeds on the art of over-the-top, dramatic comedy is nostalgic in many ways. Despite it being my first screening, A Legacy of Whining felt like a film I have watched many times. Even the title card has an air of nostalgia, with the bubbly title flying in to frame in true 80s comedy style like Airplane! or The Naked Gun.
The corny jokes and contrasting characters are reminiscent of films I’ve seen and loved before, but A Legacy of Whining takes the mismatched character trope and twists into a new and exciting adventure.
Buddy Film Success
A Legacy of Whining is, at its core, a well-written story with a strong flavor of buddy films of the past. The cheap gags don’t feel too cheap, but instead satirical and purposefully kitschy. Mitch and Dunc are exaggerated characters but are balanced out by hard cuts to flat, inconspicuous jokes that stabilize the overstated nature of the rest of the film (like a chauffeur holding a sign that reads “Suck du Soleil”, a girl’s phone case that reads “I <3 Big Dick”, and a quick glimpse of Mitch pushing a nun out of the way to meet Dunc).
Mitch and Dunc’s rapport is fantastic as each one’s various quirks continuously balance out the other one’s, though Mitch is fairly clueless to Dunc’s snark; for example, his ignorance to Dunc’s jokes about his misprinted license plate that says LESBIAN instead of THESPIAN. Mitch’s innocent nature pivots him as the moral compass of the pair while he helps guide Dunc through a clear midlife crisis.
The main characters’ archetypal relationship seems to look up to other buddy films, such as Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The film also features an original song performed by Munro himself (as the fictional band The Snotty Punks) titled “Young, British and Snotty”, which is just one of the ways the movie stays fresh and unique in its storytelling and humor.
Though a beautifully shot film with genuinely funny dialogue, the acting mostly felt artificial. Actors Munro and Duncan seemed to play their characters in an over-enunciated way, as if I was watching a stage play, which almost distracted from how good the production actually is. I’d like to think the tone was meant to be more tongue-in-cheek, rather than the result of poor casting. As a whole the production is too well done to have accidentally be killed by actors who couldn’t deliver, thus the acting is assumed to be intentional.
Despite the somewhat robotic tone, the punchlines still hit, the jokes managed to land, and the clueless demeanor of Mitch pitted against Duncan’s straightforward and cynical attitude was a successful recipe that managed not to feel played out.
Beyond the Comedy
A Legacy of Whining is filed away as a comedy, but the story is far more than that and features much larger themes. The common motif throughout the story is both men’s struggle to let go of the past –– Mitch in his tireless pursuit of an acting career, and Dunc with his desire to stay youthful via the young women he indulges. This is especially true during the climax of the film, where the two men visit a brothel. This sequences turns out to be more than just a bad mistake on Dunc’s part. It forces Mitch to consider his own legacy and invites the audience to look deeper into the parts of their youth they also continue to grasp.
So open up and let the goofiness in. A Legacy of Whining is a charming indie comedy that holds deeper themes and dashes of nostalgia that is well worth a watch.