Starring Will Sasso, Victor Garber. Written by Mike O’Neill, Mike Clattenburg. Directed by Mike Clattenburg. 14A. 95 min. Opens July 20.
Rebounding strongly from the debacle of Afghan Luke, Mike Clattenburg fashions a surpassingly warm and surprisingly tough-minded comedy in Moving Day. The film, which focuses on a dysfunctional furniture-moving company in Halifax, is undistinguished visually and features some patchy plotting. Fortunately, the actors keep hitting unexpectedly bittersweet notes—especially ex-MADtv player Will Sasso, who leans into his performance as a hulking employee who’s grown both physically and spiritually tired
It’s a little too cute that one of the things that spurs Clyde (Sasso) to think about leaving his perpetually cash-strapped company is a seriously tacky painting of a staring jungle cat: It means that he’s getting the eye of the tiger. But gradually, the strangely poetic touches—including Clyde’s habit of scribbling out his darkest thoughts on strips of cardboard around his apartment—give the story some emotional context.
All of the characters are thwarted in some way: Clyde’s foreman (Gabriel Hogan) is an alcoholic, his best work buddy (an excellent Charlie Murphy) is an ex-con, and their boss (Victor Garber) cooks the books to protect his meagre little empire. Clattenburg and Mike O’Neill’s screenplay laughs with them, not at them (at least most of the time), and there are moments when the stakes feel higher than usual for a commercial-workplace comedy. It makes sense: Clattenburg made his reputation with the absurd but unsentimental comic tone he established in the Trailer Park Boys series. Moving Day is hardly perfect, but it’s still a fitting complement to that modest legacy.