Canadian indie filmmaker Ross Munro clings to the past in A Legacy of Whining.
Writer/director Munro stars as Mitch, a down-on-his-luck sad sack who is trying to cut his teeth as an actor. He idolizes classic Hollywood and anticipates auditions as if the next gig will propel him to stardom. However, his hopelessly neurotic subconscious sabotages him every waking hour. No matter how many social hints are provided for him by others, he’s in constant ignorance to his true self.
As he prepares for another “big” audition, Mitch spends a long night with his old pal, Dunc (Robert David Duncan). Having not seen each other in decades, Mitch is not so much interested in catching up than he is eager to relive “the old times”. Just like his obsessions with popcorn classics, Mitch fills his mind up with nostalgia and overcompensates in other areas of growth with self-proclaimed cleverness. This quickly gets on Dunc’s nerves – ditto for the audience.
A Legacy of Whining doesn’t work. Munro provides such limited range for himself and for Robert David Duncan, his screen partner for most of the film. The filmmaker borrows quirks from previous buddy comedies to establish the dynamic between Mitch and Dunc, but he doesn’t bother to add depth to these characters. Since Munro is trying very hard to get a laugh from the audience by bellyaching about pop culture and the modern state of the world, he’s allowed himself to dismiss more important qualities to his movie (such as finding steady momentum and chemistry during simple dialogue-driven exchanges between Mitch and Dunc). The comedic writing is also all for naught considering the dated topics and references that are provided in Munro’s desperate screenplay.
In order for this self-deprecating schtick to work, there has to be an element of irony present. It’s why David Wain can get away with it in projects he also acts, directs, and writes (Stella, Wainy Days). During every scene of A Legacy of Whining, Ross Munro thinks he’s hilarious and he wants his audience to know that – that’s deadly.
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