Jump Tomorrow

Finding a genuinely funny film is hard enough these days. Finding a genuinely funny independent film is even harder. Which is why Jump Tomorrow is such a special film. It's a great first time effort for writer/director Joel Hopkins, reworking his short film Jorge. This film wears its low budget proudly. It looks cheap, but never for a moment feels that way. Jump Tomorrow is warm, full of life, pleasing, and does not succumb to the temptation to lower the humor to the gutter level. It's also a nice change of pace; the four principal characters are a Nigerian, a Frenchman, a Latina, and an Englishman. This is a mix of people almost never seen in films today.

Jump Tomorrow is a bizarre road trip to Niagara Falls. George (Tunde Adebimpe, Jorge) is going there for his arranged marriage. George is as ordinary as someone can be, almost to the point of being boring. He is soft-spoken and terse, and moves stiffly. Adebimpe is not an actor, and he's either doing a fantastic job of looking as uncomfortable as possible, or just not comfortable in front of the camera. Either way, it is perfect for the role. He meets up with Gerard (Hippolyte Giradot, La Cible, Petite Soeur), despondent over his girlfriend's rejection of his proposal. After a strange encounter in the bathroom, Gerard agrees to drive George to Niagara Falls. George also met Alicia (Natalia Verbeke, Kasbah, To the End of the Road) at a phone booth. She is hitchhiking to Canada with her boyfriend Nathan (James Wilby, Cotton Mary, An Ideal Husband).

George will not admit it, but he is apprehensive about his marriage. His is marrying out of respect for his parents. He will also not admit that he is deeply infatuated with Alicia. It could be that she is some sort of last fling for him, but she possesses a zeal that is missing from his life. Alicia is in a similar situation. She is not entirely happy with Nathan, but she is not willing to admit this to herself. Hopkins' story is great because at no point in time (well, except for the conventional ending) does it become predictable. There is no way of knowing what will happen next. George, Gerard, and Alicia are always going off in directions that nobody would expect. Hopkins' even has the guts to have Gerard and George pick up Alicia and Nathan on the way, so that all four are in the car.

The movie starts clumsily, but easily finds its own unique charming groove. Hopkins' jokes tend toward the goofy, with Adebimpe playing the straight man in a world full of strange people. The only time he shows signs of life are in his flights of fancy. He imagines himself and Alicia in a cheesy Spanish soap opera, complete with bad lighting, exaggerated acting and dramatic close-ups. George is a good person at heart who wants to do the right thing, so it's easy to sympathize with his plight. Adebimpe's performance never wavers from geek chic. Watching his reactions to the oddness around him is what makes the movie so fun. Giradot and Verbeke (who is playing the type of English role that Penelope Cruz needs to play if she ever wants to make a good English movie) are also fun to watch, although their roles have less dimension. There is one unfortunate element about Jump Tomorrow. In all likelihood, it will disappear quickly from small theaters, falling under the radar of most of the country. So find it and watch it quickly, before it goes away.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated PG for thematic material, mild sensuality, and language.

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