Jump Tomorrow (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by Toby White

Starring: Tunde Adebimpe, Hippolyte Girardot, Natalia Verbeke, James Wilby
Director: Joel Hopkins

There’s a certain ambiguity about ‘indie’ romantic comedies that leaves one unsure about whether they are any good or not. Typically, given their low budgets, one would think that their charm resides in their simplicity. Then again it’s this simplicity that can often be their shortcoming. As such, JUMP TOMORROW typifies the genre.

George (Tunde Adebimpe) is a shy, stammering Nigerian ex-pat, tied to an imminent arranged marriage, who meets and falls for the lovely Alicia (Natalia Verbeke), a bubbly South American beauty also, naturally, in the wrong relationship with the selfish Nathan (James Wilby). George suppresses his attraction for Alicia while they strike up a charming friendship until Gerard (Hippolyte Giradot), wallowing in his own loss of love, persuades George that he has to go out and get the one he loves. So the two pair up and pursue Alicia and her fiance to Niagara Falls (the venue for both their marriages) to woo Alicia while the clock ticks down to their respective wedlock. Sounds fun, hey? And indeed it should be but allow me to explain my aforementioned assertion.

Structurally, the plot works; it’s well cast, the script is passable and the film, as is standard in ‘indie flicks’, is littered with quirky set pieces (in this case George fantasises about playing the dashing romantic lead in Alicia’s favourite Spanish soap opera against his timid nature) that drive the characters and inject additional humour.

While working in principal, it just didn’t seem to work in execution and, perhaps, this is testament to the low budget. The cinematography is bland – maybe this was intentional but there’s not one filter used. The camera direction (by first-timer Brit, Joel Hopkins) is, for want of a better word, static: apart from a glorious tension-building moment in the film’s climax, there’s hardly a single moving camera shot. The cast play their characters like caricatures: you almost want to grab George, shake him, and just yell at him to get some balls – he’s far too wimpish for the best part of the film which is more frustrating than evoking sympathy. At this juncture let me just say that the marvellous Girardot salvages the soporific chemistry between the characters. As for the ‘quirky moments’, these are either too obvious or are hideously ripped-off homages. I cite a dance sequence that smacks so much of BANDE A PART as to emit a groan from the audience. So, by trying to keep it simple, it is almost too simple for its own good. There’s nothing in it that makes it stand out and make an impression – and that’s what ‘indie’ first-timers are supposed to try to do.

In conclusion, therefore: Has the potential to be fresh, funny and fulfilling but fizzles, fudges and flounders. I say, why wait until tomorrow, jump today.

2 out of 6 stars