Control Alt Delete
Entertainment One // R // $24.98 // June 15, 2010
Review by Rohit Rao | posted July 18, 2010
M O V I E
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version

THE MOVIE:

Control Alt Delete is the sort of movie you've seen a thousand times before.
Boy meets girl.
Boy loses girl.
Boy sticks penis in computer.
Boy meets another girl.
...wait a second...
[rewind]
.lrig rehtona steem yoB
.retupmoc ni sinep skcits yoB
[play]
Boy sticks penis in computer.

I take it back. Control Alt Delete definitely isn't the sort of movie you've seen a thousand times before.

Lewis (Tyler Labine) and his girlfriend, Sarah (Laura Bertram) are having trouble recapturing the rapture in their relationship. She wants to work out the kinks but he has kinks of his own to sort out thanks to a raging love for internet porn. When his secret addiction becomes a bit more public, Sarah storms out in a huff after declaring her jealousy towards his computer. Her words turn out to be oddly prescient as Lewis soon embarks on a perplexing relationship with his desktop.

After a failed attempt at reconciliation with Sarah, in a moment of utter desperation Lewis turns to his only source of comfort: his computer. And then...well...he boinks it. I'm not speaking metaphorically. He actually drills a large hole in his desktop case and then he really drills it. To make matters worse, he ends up really enjoying it. This is going to make things hard for him because Lewis is a software programmer by trade and as a result spends his days surrounded by computers giving him the come-hither stare. Even as he navigates this newly discovered minefield, Lewis encounters Jane (Sonja Bennett). Jane's a quirky free spirit. She may also be just what Lewis needs in order to come to terms with himself.

It's a real shame but Control Alt Delete isn't the movie it could have been An oddball concept like this practically begs to be pitched as a darkly comic character study. While writer / director Cameron Labine (Tyler's brother) takes a few bold steps in this direction, he veers towards the commonplace too often to be entirely successful. Part of the problem is that Lewis achieves full-on freakiness far too early in the proceedings. By having him copulate with his computer within the first act, the film has nowhere to go after that. He does the deed a few times at work, including an unseen 'rape' of a computer belonging to his boss, Angela (Alisen Down). However, this just feels repetitive rather than building to a breakthrough for Lewis.

By setting the film in 1999 amidst the Y2K scare even the workplace antics, while worthy of a few chuckles, feel derivative of Office Space. Perhaps it should be considered an homage since Lewis works for Millenitech (sounds a lot like Initech doesn't it?). In either case, at least the office scenes give us two entertaining characters in Angela and Gustafson (Geoff Gustafson). Alisen Down plays Angela as the sort of boss who gives high-pitched pep talks filled with platitudes. Watching her yelp 'Go Team!' as she becomes increasingly frazzled is one of the film's subtle delights. Gustafson on the other hand is a sleazy social climber who enjoys describing his 'O Face' while plotting to become the top dog at work. He also owns the single funniest line in the entire film. I won't spoil it here but its matter-of-fact crassness should make it easily identifiable.

Speaking of performances within the film, I have yet to discuss two critical ones. When I started watching the film, I found Tyler Labine to be an odd choice for the lead role. I was so used to his exuberant Jack Black-in-training persona, from past work on Reaper, that his muted turn as Lewis just seemed wrong on some level. To his credit, he quickly disappears into the role and plays the character with a convincing level of conflict. While Lewis can't be described as a good person, given how he treats Sarah and Jane, Tyler gives the character a strangely sympathetic edge. Sonja Bennett gets the short end of the stick as Jane. While Bennett gives a pleasantly quirky performance that is reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel, the script doesn't really do her justice. Jane is intended as a foil and potential romantic interest for Lewis. However, the interactions between the characters are so stilted that romantic tension is non-existent

Despite its ill-advised detours into the mainstream, the film manages to convey its central message that everyone just needs to let their freak flag fly. While the film is far from being a resounding success, it does approach its theme and characters with a hook that I haven't seen before. By now you should already know if you're the kind of person who can buy what this film is selling but if you are still on the fence, let me make this easy for you. If you need to shut down a computer, do you (a) pull the power plug or (b) drill a hole in its side and pound it into submission until it shuts itself down? On second thought, don't tell me. Let's leave that between you and your CPU.

THE DVD:

Video:
The widescreen image is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. While the image is clear enough for the most part, I did notice a few annoying instances of moiré. Additionally, the low budget origins of the film are betrayed by a flat appearance and dull color palette.

Audio:
The audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and 2.0 Stereo tracks. I chose to listen to the surround sound mix and found it to be exceptionally clear and free of any defects. Although the rear surrounds feel a bit underutilized, they definitely come through when asked to support the fun soundtrack that features plenty of skittering beeps and bloops. Subtitles are presented in English SDH.

Extras:
The only extras included with this release are a set of 6 short Interviews with the cast and crew of the film. First up, Producer Stephanie Symns (2:47) discusses the challenges of making a low budget Canadian film, especially one as quirky as this. She is followed by Writer / Director Cameron Labine (2:14) who discusses the central theme of self acceptance and the joys of working with his own brother. Next up, we have interviews with cast members including Tyler Labine (2:47), Laura Bertram (1:53), Keith Dallas (1:28) and Geoff Gustafson (2:04). Tyler's interview is quite entertaining despite being so short. He too discusses the symbiotic relationship with his brother and the challenges of screwing computers. Bertram focuses on the awkwardness of filming sex scenes while Dallas and Gustafson come across as funny, self-deprecating guys who deserve to be seen on screen more often.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
I'm not sure that a film about a guy who has sex with computers would ever achieve mainstream acceptance. At the same time, I'm not sure that should even be a goal. If you know that your film is an odd duck, then you should follow it to its logically odd conclusion. Director Cameron Labine partially succeeds in doing so by devising a concept that is sure to divide audiences. He then backtracks by saddling the film with routine workplace antics and a forced romance. At least he extracts a compelling performance from his brother Tyler in the lead role. It's the sort of performance that builds sympathy with the viewer while communicating new uses for rolled up tubes of bubble wrap and lubricant. If you're still curious, Rent It.



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