There’s a kernel of a good idea in the hot mess that is Sadie’s Last Days on Earth. Unfortunately, the film surrounding it is as shoddily constructed as a bunker with a swinging door.

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There’s a kernel of a good idea in the hot mess that is Sadie’s Last Days on Earth. Unfortunately, the film surrounding it is as shoddily constructed as a bunker with a swinging door.

As the title indicates, high schooler Sadie (Morgan Taylor Campbell) thinks the world is going to end on Dec. 21. She validates her belief with some vague climate science, but really, it’s an excuse for her to turn her generalized teenage anxiety into a sword of Damocles that prevents her from having to deal with life.

She’s turned her bedroom into a bunker and is honing her survival skills. She’s too busy learning to cook and knit to dwell on the fact that she’s estranged from her best friend Brennan (Clark Backo), who is more interested in Snapchatting her outfits than learning to make tea out of leaves. Her only acquaintances are Teddy, an ostentatiously British classmate, and her teacher Connie (Paula Brancati), with whom she shares an unrealistically chummy relationship... until she meets Jack (Ricardo Hoyos). Could he be the one who helps her cross "Kiss a boy" off her Things To Do Before Everyone Dies list?

The idea of using impending doom as an excuse to avoid your current misery could be a potent one: Why do homework when it’ll all be over after Christmas break? Why worry about your Instagram followers when the Internet won’t exist after the giant tsunami wipes everything out?

Toronto writer/director Michael Seater can’t figure out how to deal with the metaphor of high school as natural disaster. The result is a hodge-podge that doesn’t know if it’s a teen rom-com or something more substantial and darker.

The cast, stacked with Degrassi alums, does its best with a script that offers up moments of decent repartee, but also baffling, out-of-the-blue revelations and dialogue that’s too often a speechifying attempt to shoehorn the apocalypse into teen angst.

SUPPLIED</p><p>Sadie (Morgan Taylor Campbell) turns her bedroom into a bunker in Sadie’s Last Night on Earth.</p></p>

SUPPLIED

Sadie (Morgan Taylor Campbell) turns her bedroom into a bunker in Sadie’s Last Night on Earth.

It’s packed full of teen-comedy clichés that it vaguely attempts to upend, without particular success.

However, it does get some things right. The two female leads are beautiful, of course, but in slightly unconventional ways, and their BFF breakup feels painfully real.

Hoyos, with his deep dimples and green eyes, is a classic cutie with a swoop of black hair that would make Zac Efron jealous. But, to use Pretty in Pink terms, he’s neither a bland Blaine nor a dorky Ducky. He hits a note somewhere in between: an outsider who fits in with the in crowd; a cool guy with a rebellious streak. He’s a worthy crush and we don’t have to see his abs to know it.

But for everything it gets right, Sadie’s Last Days gets four others very wrong. Of course, one doesn’t expect air-tight logic from a teen comedy, but the film has more holes and dropped stitches than Sadie’s first attempts at a scarf.

At one point, Sadie, Jack and Brennan attend a "mod" party Teddy is DJing. (The party is 21-plus, so the teens have to sneak in — this laughable attempt to make what is clearly a Canadian production seem as if it might be set in the United States is more deluded than offensive.)

Everyone involved seems to have only the fuzziest idea of what mod is — Jack is dressed like a Teddy boy; Sadie is a go-go girl — and the kids on the dance floor are going crazy to the Supremes. It’s a moment that encapsulates how false and hand-me-down the whole film feels.

jill.wilson@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @dedaumier

 

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
Senior copy editor

Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.

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