Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Fetching Cody" (2005)

Starring Jary Baruchel, Sarah Lind and Jim Byrnes
Written and Directed by David Ray

Jay Baruchel ("She's Out of My League") stars as Art, a small-time dope dealer living on the streets with his girlfriend, Cody (Sarah Lind).  Cody and Art talk a lot about simply getting on the bus and moving on to a better life where neither of them sells drugs or turns tricks for small cash.  One evening, Art enters Cody's crappy apartment to find her ODing in her bed.  Suddenly, paramedics rush in even though he never called them, and Cody is taken to the hospital.

Kicked out of the hospital after nearly assaulting a social worker, Art runs into his friend Harvey (Jim Byrnes) who claims to have found a time machine in a dumpster.  Art doesn't believe him at first because the supposed time machine looks more like a dirty recliner covered in Christmas tree lights.  But when Art sits in the chair, he finds that it does allow him to travel through both time and space merely by stating where it is he'd like to go, and when.

Art begins a journey, consisting of multiple trips through time, to attempt to save Cody's life by altering her past to repair the many traumas she's suffered through the years.  He starts out small, trying to save her from humiliation by school bullies, but as he learns more and more about Cody's past, he discovers more and more awful things that kept happening to her earlier and earlier, and attempts to fix these things, often failing and going back to try again.  But each time he returns to the present, he finds it unchanged.  Harvey tells him this is because "time is like a mighty river," and relates that changing something in the past is more difficult than changing something in the present, but Art doesn't care, and is dogged in his attempts to change history.

It's hard not to make comparisons between "Fetching Cody" and 2004's "The Butterfly Effect" starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart, especially when it comes to their ultimate conclusions.  Both films feature the male protagonists attempting to alter the past for the betterment of their female love interests.  While "Butterfly Effect" was actually a fairly entertaining, higher-budget film, "Fetching Cody" is small and obviously cheap.  That's not what makes it ultimately fail compared to Kutcher's flick, but rather the unfocused script and wonky time travel logic.

For example, Art travels to the same point in time multiple times in the film over and over and over again and never runs into a time traveling double of himself, except at the crucial moment when Art from the future is the one that calls the paramedics for Cody.  In addition, Cody has a throwaway line about how when she first met Art, she felt like she'd known him all her life, but there's no explanation as to whether or not she remembers all the previous times they'd encountered each other with all of Art's time travel hijinx.  Harvey makes a big deal about how difficult it is to change the past, but ultimately, Art is able to do so simply by placing a phone call in the past.  Perhaps he meant that changing the past means making difficult decisions rather than doing difficult things?  I'm not sure.  There's some slight implication that Harvey could actually be the ancient god Chronos, controller of time; he tells Art about how time is intertwined with inevitability.  But this concept is treated in such at throwaway manner that makes it seem like if the film doesn't care about it, then why should I?

Baruchel is a likable presence, as he often is, but the film doesn't really develop a relationship between Art and Cody to make me care about them as a couple.  I'm told over and over that these two love each other, but there's not much feeling of that throughout the film.  Even scenes where Art spends the night in the hospital watching over her feel emotionally vacant.

"Fetching Cody" has some fun bits, and isn't a bad movie, per se, but it's not a particularly good one.  The ideas it presents are certainly intriguing, but it can't seem to develop them in a logical or overly enthralling manner.