Tuesday, September 25, 2018

LAFF ’18: The Wrong Todd

The stakes are usually astronomical in science fiction involving alternate universes. In contrast, the love of one woman might sound like small potatoes, but it means everything to Todd—and also to Other Todd. The alternate Todd never got over the death of their beloved Lucy, so he manages to switch places with the Todd of our world, so he can be with her again. Our Todd is more slackery, but love will motivate him in Rob Schulbaum’s The Wrong Todd (trailer here), which premiered at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival.

Regular World Todd has rarely left Providence and never been outside New England, but that has always been his preference. Therefore, he reacts badly when his girlfriend Lucy tells him she wants to accept a promotion in Seattle. He will regret his churlishness, because Other Todd is about to bonk him over the head and send him back to his Other universe.

Of course, Lucy is quite surprised to find her supposed Todd is now super-attentive and eager to support her career decisions. In contrast, the displaced Todd is totally surprised to find his best friend, Lucy’s schlubby brother Dave is suddenly weirdly responsible and married to Lucy’s contemptuous bestie, Abby. They also keep telling him Lucy is dead, so he’d better finally come to terms with it.

Right, how do you cross over into different universes? A mad scientist has a portal in his RV. This is definitely lo-fi science fiction, but it is the relationships that matter, not the special effects. Even though Wrong Todd is being positioned as a sf rom-com, it is shockingly sweet and touching. Think Somewhere in Time with some physical comedy.

Jesse Rosen shows tremendous flexibility differentiating the two Todds, while still suggesting core commonalities. Sean Carmichael exhibits even greater extremes as Dave (the loafing loser everyone will want to slap) and Other Dave, who has some deeply poignant moments discussing his grief over Lucy’s death. Nicely playing opposite him, Erin Rose brings some wonderfully sly attitude to Abby and Other Abby. Anna Rizzo portrays Lucy as a smart, independent woman (even though she is involved with Todd), which is somewhat refreshing in both rom-coms and science fiction (but alas, there is only one of her).

It might take viewers five or ten minutes to acclimate themselves to the film’s idiosyncratic rhythm, but it is worth the effort. Don’t come for laughs, because this film delivers big emotional payoffs instead. Highly recommended for fans of character-driven science fiction, The Wrong Todd had its world premiere at the 2018 LAFF.