Control Alt Delete (2010) dir. Cameron Labine
Starring: Tyler Labine, Sonja Bennett, Geoff Gustafson, Keith Dallas, Alisen Down
By Alan Bacchus
Cameron Labine’s directorial debut, opening this weekend in limited release in Vancouver is another entry in the long line of Canadian sex comedies. Everyone has a fetish, and Labine decides to give his lead character, Lewis, one of the sickest and most headturning - sex and desktop computers. Wait, let me clarify sex with desktop computers. It’s a wild ridiculous concept, something which could only be gotten away with in Canada or Scandinavia. Unfortunately, despite the concept the film has difficulties sustaining its humour beyond its festish raunchiness.
The running theme of “Control Alt Delete” is fetish and how our insecurities about them can cause us to do some pretty outrageous and silly things to cover them up. This is what happens to Lewis Henderson (Tyler Labine), our portly computer programmer hero. It’s December 1999 and Lewis works in a company devoted to fixing the “Y2K” bug for its clients. He’s successful at his job, but his domestic life is in shambles. Lewis can’t perform sexually with his girlfriend Sarah (“Ready or Not’s” Laura Bertram, whom see in a 69 position as the first shot in the film – awesome!). Lewis retreats to sneaky porn-watching in the middle of the night to jerk off. But not even that can get him off.
The only thing that turns him on is his computer. So why not fuck it? Lewis literally drills a hole in the side of his PC and fucks his computer. It’s one of the most ridiculously absurd moments in film I’ve seen. Lewis takes his fetish to work and starts drilling holes and screwing other computers in the office late at night. Meanwhile, Lewis starts up a relationship with the office wallflower Angela (Alisen Down) who proves to be more liberal in bed than her conservative demeanour would suggest. Lewis’ career becomes threatened though when the office douchebag who’s investigating the serial computer-fucker gets close to exposing Lewis. Lewis is forced to confront and accept his own responsibility and his own fetish in order to right everything that’s wrong.
Labine’s film appears to be born from the singular concept of a man fucking a computer. Unfortunately slapped onto this gag is a note for note recycling of Mike Judge’s “Office Space” which casts a shadow over the entire film. “Office Space” shouldn’t make other office comedies out of bounds, but there’s very little that differentiates the two films. In addition to bottling Judge's absurd/satirical tone, each character seems like an overly familiar fusion of Judge's characters, with some slight tweeks to the extreme. Angela, the office manager (Alisen Down), operates in the same manner as the excruciating Lumbergh. Down adds a nervous behavioral twitch, which, in it’s extremity becomes annoying very quickly. Lapine even has a running gag with the character’s names. Everyone’s last name ends in ‘son’- Frederickson, Gustafson, Medelsson – perhaps borrowing from the identity confusion gag in “American Psycho”.
The fetish gag is hung on a traditional romantic comedy structure. Thankfully lead actor Tyler Labine, known for his work on “Reaper”, is an oddly lovable hero (also check him out in 'Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil' this summer). Despite his reprehensible behaviour, including the computer-fucking, the screen loves the man and we desperately want him to get the girl and defeat his douchebag rival. His leading lady Sonja Bennett (last seen in “Young People Fucking”) gives Jane a more aloof personality, but she is also highly watchable and girl-next-door alluring.
“Control Alt Delete” is not this year’s “Young People Fucking”, but it’s good see there’s still more enthusiastic sex comedy filmmakers emerging in Canadian cinema. Enjoy.
'Control Alt Delete' opens theatrically this weekend in Vancouver only via E1 Entertainment.