Director: & Writer: Trevor Peckham
Time: 91 minutes
Review by Mike Szymanski
It’s tough to make a teen comedy that’s smart and for an overall audience. Mix in sci-fi elements and a good teen film is practically non-existent (a good one, that is.)
“Discontinued” is not necessarily a teen comedy, in fact, it’s for everyone — and perhaps for everyone except teens because most of those kids get it.
“Discontinued” mixes the ideas of “The Matrix” with Diablo Cody-like speaking from “Juno” and creates a delightful, fun film that is surprising and enjoyable.
The wise-cracking sarcasm comes from Sarah, who is a Millennial with a lot of anxiety about the future and what it holds. Her therapist thinks she is too sarcastic and her best friend says she is “fast-tracking it to the cat lady phase.”
Played by a remarkable new talent, Ashley Hutchinson, Sarah is angry, sad, and desperate to change things she has no control over. She finds life rather pointless, but no, she is not suicidal.
Then, while watching TV one night, she gets a bizarre broadcast that perhaps everyone else in the world is watching too at the same time. The broadcast explains that everyone has been living in a Simulated Reality created by a society from the future, and that their lives will be shut down in one week.
Until that time, she must decide berween two options: A. to stay in the world and fend for herself, or B. relive the five best moments of this life in a continuous loop. Until making that decision, she will also have an artificial intelligence robot-like guy as her Guide which no one else can see.
The Guide is played by Langston Fishburne, who looks very much like his father, Laurence (ironically from “The Matrix” movies). As an actor, he shows a various amount of talents and accents in the multiple roles he is supposed to play as the emissary from the future.
In one moment, the whole world changes so much that even the insular sarcastic teen can’t keep up with what’s going on. Her therapist tells her what he really thinks about her as he packs to travel.
Her therapist unloads by saying to Sarah that he generation is lost: “Everyone knows, you are bunch of self-absorbed, know-it-all assholes. what is the point of it all?”
People around Sarah fall apart, and she’s realizing she is the sanest one of all. Her father answers the door naked because “there’s no time for clothes.”
One of the best of the wacky characters that Sarah sees change in this apocalyptic world is Tucker, an obnoxious blind date she was set up with by her friend, and who is hopelessly narcissistic. Played by Michael Bonini, this character of Tucker is an easy person to hate, but the actor brings more dimension to the character.
It’s not surprising that this won Best Sci-Fi Horror Thriller Audience Award at the Conquest Film Festival and Best Feature from the Coney Island Film Festival over the past year.
First-time director Trevor Peckham has a background in cinematography, but he brings all his skills together for this remarkably adept film.
“‘Discontinued’ is a small film with a lot of big ideas,” says the director. “I have always loved science fiction for its ability to open up human stories and themes by thrusting people into extraordinary situations.”
Peckham added, “By blending in a dark comedy element, I hope to draw viewers to emotional and intellectual places that they may not otherwise be comfortable going to without the laughter.
“Despite the science fiction components, this film is very much about people, and is very personal to me,” the director said. “I believe that this is a story that will make a connection with many in my generation as we navigate the challenges of modern living and an uncertain future.”
Their world is being discontinued for a very hysterical reason which I will not reveal, but it’s for the birds. “Would they really end this is if it was good enough to keep?” the characters muse.
The languid music is delightfully appropriate, and subtle in this world that slowly gets drummed out of existence.
It’s a very unpredictable and funny film with solid acting in a world you frankly want to be continued, even if it’s “Discontinued.”
This movie is on Video on Demand through Apple, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and pre-order on Apple TV+,