Everything's Gone Green

Starring Paulo Costanzo, Steph Song, and J.R Bourne. Rated PG. Opens Friday, April 20, at the Cinemark Tinseltown

Vancouver plays itself for once in Gen X–man Douglas Coupland's first original screenwriting venture, Everything's Gone Green. It stars an excellent Paulo Costanzo (late of Joey and Road Trip) as Ryan, a pushing-30 ultraslacker who, despite well-developed cynicism, is somewhat willing to fall into accidental success.

The greenery is spiced up with fine performances by J.R Bourne as Bryce, a charismatic, creepy hustler, and up-and-comer Steph Song as Ming, Ryan's sexy potential love interest. Ryan loses his job and is dumped the same day by his live-in (Katharine Isabelle, very briefly), who declares herself sick of his Billy bookshelves. Being a man of IKEAs rather than ideas, he blindly lucks into a new job, writing blurbs about lottery winners in a tacky government mag.

This device is a brilliant way to parachute Ryan into lifestyles of the suddenly rich and not-otherwise-likely-to-be famous. It also brings him in contact with Bryce, a scammer who comes up with a money-laundering scheme involving the lottery winners. Soon, Ryan has got the sports car and leather jacket of moneyed youth—something that puts him at odds with Ming, a beautiful set dresser who happens to be in the process of getting rid of the aforementioned hustler; the last thing she needs is Bryce Lite.

Director Paul Fox, a non-Northwesterner, has handily captured the Pacific Rim ambiguities of a town still immature about its own best attributes. Everything starts coming into sharper focus as it seemingly shambles along, making smart points about the limits of greed (and green) in a world of diminishing resources and expanding competition. Costanzo and Song have a nice, easygoing chemistry, unpredictably helped along by Chiu-Lin Tam as Ming's spunky, non-English-speaking granny. And there are good bits with Peter Kelamis as Ryan's moneygrubbing brother, and Susan Hogan and Tom Butler as their parents who go through a sudden change of life, partially with the aid of Ryan's best pal (Gordon Michael Woolvett), whose thumb is even greener than most. Best of all is Aidan Devine (who usually plays villains) as Ryan's oily but likable boss.

The soundtrack is appropriately populated by jangly Canuck bands like the FemBots and Sloan, while the title is a reference to a song by Brit band New Order. It almost goes without saying that cinematographer David Frazee works overtime to find the most apt locations, both with and without potted palms.