Ryan (Constanzo), the hero of Generation X
er Douglas Coupland’s first screenplay, is 29, unemployed in scenic Vancouver, and recently dumped by his ball-busting girlfriend for not being “motivated to awaken the warrior within.” (She rubs it in by slagging his IKEA Billy bookcases; it’s that kind of a party.) In between half-speed indie-pop driving scenes with artful reflections in the windows, Ryan stumbles into a new job that seems promising at first: interviewing and photographing lottery winners for a government magazine. Yet, inevitably, Ryan’s brain begins collapsing under the weight of contemplating life’s purpose and the meaning of “winning,” and he is tempted by a money-laundering scam proposed by the amoral, tooly boyfriend (Bourne) of the perfect woman (Song) he meets while rubbernecking a beached whale (really). On paper this might sound like a quirky little caper/farce, and in the hands of some filmmakers it would be a quirky little caper/farce. But Fox, a veteran director of Canadian sitcoms, strives to duplicate Coupland’s balance between gently satirizing the quarter-century crisis (plus its four-year aftershock) and exploring it philosophically, in ways more low-key and gradual than an epileptic Natalie Portman announcing that the Shins will change your life. Ryan’s arc from hopeful first-day enthusiasm to burned-out, screw-you hyperindividualism feels right, natural, and familiar, but it doesn’t happen with edge-of-your-seat excitement or cutting-edge innovation. There’s plenty of zingy dialogue and some effective use of montage, but a subplot about Ryan’s parents growing pot in the family basement isn’t as funny as it thinks it is. (“Tech stocks may have gotten wiped out, but bud is forever,” says Ryan’s wackiest buddy, though he seems too young to have been trading in the 1990s.) On the plus side, Costanzo is an appealing and likable young actor who carries the film easily; he gives the impression that he is thinking deeply and mildly amused. But now that Coupland has his feet wet, perhaps he’ll venture ahead to the questions of life after 30 in his next script.