Jay Baruchel has come a long way from PMK. This year, the deliciously lanky Canuck is starring in two big-ticket American movies: the highly underrated She’s Out of my League and the upcoming summer blockbuster, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. While those movies are guaranteed to up his star status, I doubt they will make audiences take him seriously as an actor and masterfully awkward comedian. His latest Canadian flick, The Trotsky, however, is a whole other, hilariously offbeat, story.
The Trotsky follows a determined young man (Baruchel) from Montreal who wholeheartedly believes he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. It all starts when he realizes he has the same birth name as the former Russian revolutionary (Leon Bronstein) and just escalates as he notices that his life eerily mimics the events of My Life, Trotsky’s biography. In an effort to fulfill his pre-planned destiny as a socialist leader, Leon dresses up in Trotsky’s signature glasses and three-piece suits, attempts to evoke unions wherever he goes and constantly searches the Yellow Pages for his Vladmir Ulyanov (FYI non-history junkies, that’s the birth name of Lenin). He even goes as far as to throw himself at a 27-year-old woman, simply because her name is Alexandra, like Trotsky’s first wife. Oh, and he’s totally fine with his inevitable ice-pick death, as long as it’s “somewhere warm.”
The story may be far-fetched and slightly pretentious (especially for less-informed young viewers), but that’s precisely why it’s so damn charming. Unlike every teen movie in recent history, it’s not afraid to make viewers think in between chuckles. Like when Leon and his co-ed comrades hold a dance for “Social Justice.” All the guests come dressed as their favourite freedom fighters and political activists, but they never explain themselves. You have to figure out whether they have come as Anne Frank or Ayn Rand.
The movie is essentially Pump Up the Volume (Christian Slater classic – watch it now!) with a much more politically charged message. But you don’t have to be a political science major to enjoy it. Baruchel’s performance is enough to make the movie well worth the over-priced theatre visit. He is perfectly over-the-top as Leon, turning the simplest lines into gawk-ward gold. Like when he looks a bitchy classmate in the eye and deadpans, “Are you my Stalin, Dwight?” Can you say, eh plus?
Besides Baruchel, the only other star really worth mentioning is the setting. Director Jacob Tierney is proud of his film’s Canadian background and even flaunts it, purposely inserting legitimate – and stereotypical – Canuck icons into the movie. We get appearances by Liane Balaban (The New Waterford Girl), Colm Feore (Bon Cop, Bad Cop), beavers and of course, Ben Mulroney. It sounds shameless, and it kind of is, but it’s much more fun than say, One Week, which felt like a feature length ad for Timmies. The difference is, this isn’t a movie about Canada. It’s about a good old Canadian boy, who just happens to think he’s Russian. A-
Starring Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Colm Feore and Michael Murphy. Directed by Jacob Tierney. 120 minutes. 14A