An obvious film festival rotation regular, the quirky but simple Canadian coming-of-age flick, Drinkwater, may not be fresh, but at least it is fun. Daniel Doheny, who I loved in Alex Strangelove, is genuinely great as the nerdy lead, Mike Drinkwater. An obvious social outcast, Mike is bullied and underestimated time and time again. With a 5K cross county race approaching, Mike’s coach pushes him to enter; the possibility of winning a free scholarship may be too tantalizing to ignore. Small town living and adolescent woes take center stage in Stephen S. Campanelli’s so-so Drinkwater.
Just before a creative opening credits showcasing cast and crew names popping up on various signage (hockey sticks, posters, chalk drawings at a park), we are plunged into the world of Bruce Lee-obsessed Mike Drinkwater. His dad, Hank (Eric McCormack, Will & Grace, Double, Double, Toil and Trouble), is training for an upcoming Iron Man race, living at home off the government in the aftermath of faking an injury. Paranoid and always wearing a neck brace, Hank is far from being a present father to Mike. It has gotten to the point where Mike doesn’t even call Hank dad, but simply “Hank.” Mike tells Hank he has already applied to various universities, to which Hank wonders why Mike doesn’t just want to stay with him at home for a few more years.
A new girl, Wallace (Louriza Tronco, The Order, Easter Sunday), that moves in next door befriends Mike almost right away. Before long, Mike and Wallace are practically best friends. She even patiently observes while Mike pines over unattainable Danny (Chloe Babcook) and stalks her to no end—or, as Mike defines it, a “soft stalk.” They attend hockey games regularly with Mike, hoping to get the smallest glimpse of Sharon. After the coach pressures Mike into joining the aforementioned 5K, he recruits Wallace to help him to train, bike together, as support, and as someone to chat with. Their relationship grows more complicated as Mike somehow becomes intertwined with Sharon, the girl of his dreams.
My main issue with Drinkwater is that we have seen this all before, and done better than what is on offer. I feel like general audiences may overlook it, and it is not unique or flavorful enough for the indie crowd. Various character threads go nowhere, and the small amount of conflict that is present remains neatly tied up in a bow by the end. Still, Drinkwater is decent enough if one desires a simple night of carefree easy watching. Generic and predictable are both words that come to mind. Aside from a Canadian perspective and a strong lead turn from Daniel Doheny, Drinkwater only fills the glass just about halfway full with goodwill.
Drinkwater runs for a first place finish when it comes to theaters on Friday, October 14th.