January 25, 2002
A Canadian comedy, waydowntown tells the tale of four co-workers who each bet a month's salary that he or she will be able to go the longest without going outside. Sounds impossible, until you learn that they work in a downtown area where office complexes, shopping malls and apartment buildings are all interconnected by glass-enclosed skywalks, making the whole bet more feasible.
After 28 days, however, the proverbial natives are getting restless, and over the course of one lunch-hour, each embarks on a coping mechanism he or she believes will guarantee being able to win the bet; as is usual in most films, the protagonists will learn something about themselves during this process, and the bet will come to an end in an unexpected way and with unforeseen consequences.
On paper, this sounds like quite an intriguing premise; the idea that people might actually be able to never go outside for even one day, much less 28, presents us with an opportunity for a psychological study of how a sense of security is tied to one's surroundings, and how the human need for contact with the Earth from which we derive sustenance can be as strong a drive as survival. And being played for comic effect allows the filmmakers to explore more closely subjects that might ordinarily be rather sensitive if handled dramatically.
After the recent tragedy involving the World Trade Center, waydowntown's limited release was pushed from October 5th to January 25, 2002. With good word-of-mouth and critical reviews, it could enjoy a moderate success and a relatively long life on the art-house circuit. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)