The first romantic comedy based around the 2004 presidential election, "Blue State" stars Breckin Meyer as John, a worker for the Kerry/Edwards campaign, who - as the movie begins - faces deep disappointment as all his work ends up being for nothing as Bush takes the election. His friends all support him, although they are also quick to remind him about his promise to move to Canada if Bush wins - he even gets a call from a group of Canadians who are eager to support those who are disappointed with the terrible election results.
He actually makes good on his promise, rounding up a group of potential road trip partners before - of course - deciding upon Chloe (Anna Paquin, the film's exec producer), a slightly punky, quiet type who just wants to get out of the San Fran area.
So, the two head out on the road, and the pic becomes an enjoyably low-key odd couple road movie. He's a vegetarian, she's not. She's more of a free-spirit, he's rather obsessive/compulsive. While that sounds a little been-there/seen-that, the chemistry between Meyer and Paquin is terrific, and writer Marshall Lewy's dialogue is amusing and sweet between Paquin and Meyer.
The politics of the film couldn't be more clear - which is just fine (and I'll continue to keep my political views to myself, as I have in the past) - but I thought one particular scene could have been handled a little better. John returns home to his parents on the way up to Canada and doesn't exactly get a warm welcome from his right-wing parents. One scene is especially bizarre, as his father yells, "We're going to commercial break here, cut off his mic!" when John tries to debate him on politics. Dinner table conservation also is structured like a right-wing radio show. Writer/director Marshall Lewy could have dialed the father character down a notch or two (lose the radio show dialogue), as it's one step over-the-top.
There is the underlying sadness that we find out that John's brother is in Iraq (although we find out more about what did happen to his brother late in the film), but - as strange as the scene between John and his father is - the scene does portray the hurt that John feels about how politics have distanced him so much from his parents, in a time when we find that both John and his parents are facing a great deal of emotional suffering.
Chloe also has a secret to tell John before they head across the border, as well. Once the two cross the border, the picture becomes increasingly cartoonish - while Bush supporters are probably not going to be happy with this picture, Canadians are also not likely to be thrilled with their portrayal, either. The film does end on a nice note, though, as John realizes the best way for him to promote the kind of positive changes he wants to see happen.
Still, despite whatever your thoughts about the politics of the picture or whether Canadians will be displeased by the portrayal of curling as the main thing to do up there, the two leads are wonderfully appealing. Paquin has a lovely presence, and Meyer seems thrilled to be actually acting again instead of playing against a CGI cat. For two very different actors, they manage to have surprisingly nice chemistry with one another.
Some minor bumps aside, I actually liked "Blue State" even more after watching it and taking some time to digest it. Lewy manages to get some solid performances from his actors and, despite being a low-budget picture, the pic has a pleasantly low-key visual style. Note: the film's editor is Adam Stein, who was one of the contestants on Fox's "On the Lot" reality show.
VIDEO: "Blue State" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered average image quality, with acceptable sharpness/detail and some pixelation and shimmering. However, this is still not the retail copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy may offer differing image quality.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation remained dialogue-driven, with no noticable surround use. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue and score.
EXTRAS: Commentary from director/writer Marshall Lewy is included. While the director offers some good insights on the production, there are also some fairly sizable gaps of silence throughout the track, as well.
Final Thoughts: Its Canadian second half starts to go off the rails a bit (nothing against Canadians, eh?), "Blue State"'s pairing of Paquin and Meyer works surprisingly well - enough to overlook some of the film's flaws. A recommended rental.
The Film B