Things to Do Before You’re 30
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Simon Shore
scr Patrick Wilde, Jean van de Velde
with Dougray Scott, Jimi Mistry, Shaun Parkes, Emilia Fox, Billie Piper, Bruce Mackinnon, Danny Nussbaum, Roger Morlidge, George Innes, George Irving, Rosie Cavaliero, Keira Malik
release UK 2.Jun.06
05/UK Momentum 1h41

Friends and lovers: Parkes, Fox and Scott

scott mistry piper

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Things to Do Before You're 30 Based on the Dutch film All-Stars, this British comedy-drama features strong themes about friendships and growing up. But it never quite gets the tone right.

The Athletico Greenwich football team has been playing for 20 years, and as they approach their 500th match together, they're all thinking about what they've accomplished and what they want to do before it's too late. Cass (Scott) isn't ready for responsibility of fatherhood. Dylan (Mistry) wants to escape his domineering father (Irving). Adam (Parkes) has a big secret. Colin (Mackinnon) has an indecent proposal for his girlfriend (Piper). Billy (Morlidge) is struggling to balance his friends with his family life. And Johnny (Nussbaum) is trying to protect his aging dad (Innes), the team's founder.

With all these plot threads, the film touches on important issues in a natural setting with realistic characters. But director Shore (Get Real) seems unwilling to grasp the story's darker elements. The comedy centres on innuendo, embarrassment or humiliation--but it's completely toothless. And every storyline has a squishy-soft centre that undermines anything it might say.

This style of direction also undermines the performances. The cast are clearly trying to find a balance between the drama and comedy, but they never seem to know where to put their feet. As a result, the characters seem contrived or superficial. None of the actors has much to do (Nussbaum gets the most out of his role), and it's not easy to watch them strain for something interesting in each scene.

It's also frustrating to watch a film with so many promising plotlines throw each one away with scenes that are obvious, overwrought, lifeless or, frankly, inept. Both the humour and drama fizzle weakly at every turn (the big coming out scene is particularly painful). We want to like the film, since the characters are affable, real people dealing with everyday issues we all face. But the filmmakers do nothing with them. Like most of the characters, they seem to be waiting for the right moment to tell us something. And it never comes.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 15.May.06

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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall