Jump Tomorrow (2001) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG for adult themes, mild sensuality and language
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Tunde Adebimpe, Hippolyte Girardot, Natalia Verbeke, Patricia Marceri, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Kaili Vernoff, Gene Ruffini
Director:  Joel Hopkins
Screenplay: Joel Hopkins

Review published October 19, 2003

Back in 1998, writer-director Joel Hopkins made a short film called Jorge, about a man who falls for a woman that stops to get a ladybug from his neck.  It was his graduate thesis from NYU, winning him the vaunted Wasserman award, and which later played at Sundance.  The short black-and-white film would earn him a $100,000 grant to pursue a feature film, which would end up being a more fleshed-out version of his short, entitled Jump Tomorrow

Instead of casting a real actor, Hopkins opted to use Tunde Adebimpe, a fellow student at NYU who was studying animation.  Even without a background as an actor, its his amateurishness that makes his character work, lending him a shyness and sweetness that is key in making him funny, as we laugh at him and with him as he goes through his foolish travails, and courageous ones as well.

Adebimpe plays George, a Nigerian-descended New Yorker who is awaiting the arrival of his bride in a traditional arranged wedding.  Complications ensue when it turns out that she arrived the day before and has already traveled to Niagara Falls for the vows to be held in three days.  Another snag in the plans occurs through a chance meeting with Alicia, a Hispanic woman who is planning to hitchhike to Canada with her British boyfriend.  George befriends a traveling Frenchman who believes so much in love that he is willing to take him in his car.  Just by luck, George encounters Alicia again, and soon George has a decision to make about whether to please his family or follow his heart.

With Jump Tomorrow, Hopkins lifts a few pages from some films of the 60s to produce the kind of irreverent fun you'd expect to see in a film by Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther, The Party) or Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Manhattan).  From the wardrobe, sets, vehicles and color schemes, almost every facet of the visuals, and even some of the scoring, would suggest a sensibility to take you back to movies as they were 40 years ago.  The build-up and wedding scenes will remind many of the memorable final scenes of The Graduate in particular.

It's not really as inspired or ingenious as some of its inspirations, but in today's market chock full of formulaic, brain-dead comedies, Jump Tomorrow still hits you like a breeze of fresh air.  Hopkins breathes energy and life into almost every scene, and with a very likeable cast, much of the limitations of this very low budget production is overcome with charm and a good sense of fun.  It's a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural film that mixes the different sensibilities well without any hint of racism or assertion of superiority of one class over another.  It's just a bunch of people trying to do the best they can, helping each other along the way.

Although it looks and feels like a first film from a recently graduated film school student, much of the amateurishness of Jump Tomorrow is quickly forgotten by the amusing characterizations and quirky dialogue.  Ultimately, it's probably more of a forgettable film-buff diversion than a substantive art film, but it's fun while it lasts.  There's not much surprise in the plot or the ending, but it's in the little things that Hopkins scores his points, and by the end of the story, all those little things have added up to quite a lot.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo