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REVIEW

Goodbye World

By DAN LYBARGER SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published April 4, 2014 at 1:58 a.m.

james-adrian-grenier-and-lily-kerry-bishe-are-a-couple-of-upscale-survivalists-who-are-nevertheless-taken-aback-by-the-apparent-end-of-civilization-in-goodbye-world

James (Adrian Grenier) and Lily (Kerry Bishe) are a couple of upscale survivalists who are nevertheless taken aback by the apparent end of civilization in Goodbye World.

Some people have the will to survive whatever misfortune fate throws at them. The characters at the center of Goodbye World have a smugness that’s so firm even the collapse of civilization can’t dent their egos. After a half hour in their company, one wonders if the walkers from The Walking Dead might make for better company.

In this worst case scenario, a group of former college pals are getting together for a dinner party in the mountains outside of San Francisco. The hosts James and Lily (Adrian Grenier and Kerry Bishe) have a stately home full of canned food and hoarded medicine. Their place is also solar-powered, which is also good as America’s infrastructure is collapsing because a hacker has clogged “the grid” with a text message “Goodbye World.”

Just as Nick and Becky (Ben McKenzie and Caroline Dhavernas) arrive at the isolated home, cities across the nation are rioting. Becky is a self-declared libertarian who can’t stand James and Lily’s progressive stances.

It also doesn’t help that Nick and James were partners in a tech venture in which the two had fundamental differences about how the company should have been run. While there is some concern for the fate of the nation and the world, there’s still plenty of time for these folks to debate about sharing user information with corporate greedheads.

Also arriving on the scene are Laura (Gaby Hoffmann), who is trying to start her life over after being part of a sex scandal, and Benji (Mark Webber), a fellow who uses his stint in prison as an excuse to give lectures about revolution and to woo an impressionable coed (Remy Nozik). There’s even a suicidal hacker buddy (Scott Mescudi), who seemed glum before the world started descending into chaos.

It might be forgivable that there’s little sense of urgency or danger in Goodbye World, but the 30-somethings Big Chill-ing here aren’t that appealing or even interesting. Screenwriters Sarah Adina Smith and Denis Hennelly (who also directed) manage to give their characters lots of lofty things to say (Hoffmann quotes George Washington, not once but twice!). But the dynamics between them are pretty contrived.

It’s all too convenient, that Laura just happened to learn things from the senator about the collapse and has learned survival tricks from her Scout master dad. It’s also a safe bet that armed soldiers aren’t going to leave a compound simply because one of the characters spouts passages from the Constitution at them. Somehow watching some of the women skinny dipping and smoking weed doesn’t break up the monotony.

Smith and Hennelly at least understand that people often fail to live up the ideals they profess, but they can’t seem to make anything dramatically engaging from this fact. It’s probably not fair to bring up The Walking Dead again, but when the characters there fall short, they still seem sympathetic. Maybe zombies are more compelling than philosophical debates involving IT business strategies.

Goodbye World 73 Cast: Adrian Grenier, Gaby Hoffman, Ben McKenzie, Kerry Bishe, Mark Webber, Scott Mescudi Director: Denis Hennelly Rating: Unrated Running time: 101 minutes

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 04/04/2014

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