Weekend Warriors

By Lyndon Casey | Comedy
A fun-filled weekend in the Canadian part-time army comes to a halt when the camp receives an urgent distress call.

Bobby Reddick is part of the Canadian army reserves, where as a part-time soldier, he never sees overseas duties. His small crew, led by tough-talking Guinness, are also reservists, who all have various reasons of joining, most of them having to do with money.

With his laidback attitude and his skepticism about violence, Bobby is at odds with his group, and he doesn’t get a lot of respect from Officer Guinness, who embraces the military ethos wholeheartedly. But one weekend, the group receives an urgent distress call, and the “weekend warriors” are challenged to help protect Canada — and confront the ultimate test of commitment.

Writer-director Lyndon Casey’s comedy short has flourishes of eccentricity strewn throughout its narrative that will delight fans of filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Hal Ashby, all of whom have built their careers on a blend of quirkiness and sincerity.

The writing is full of studied, witty patter that can swing from crass to droll to deadpan within the same scene with panache. The visual compositions have a certain subdued formalism that emphasizes the absurdism of the circumstances, and the score is dotted with grand flourishes that humorously offset the ragtag gang’s lack of ability to leave behind self-interest in the face of certain self-sacrifice.

With its sophisticated control of tone and dialogue, this is a comedy of manners with absurdist and satirical overtones. The object of its satire isn’t the military itself, but the difficulty of leaving behind the limited mindsets of comfort, ego, entitlement and protecting our own interests to put one’s self wholeheartedly into a mission that may require sacrifice.

Performances in a film like this can be tricky, but here they three actors — Lyndon Casey, Conor Casey and Mark Roeder — often achieve a satisfying balance of gentle satire without being too broad. What works is that each character remains true to themselves: Bobby’s blithe obliviousness and hipster skepticism makes it slow for him to really grasp what’s happening, Roderboy is really just there to provide for his family and Guinness’s macho bluster is revealed to be a lot of smoke hiding a core of wounded insecurity.

Clever, funny and gently ridiculous at times, “Weekend Warriors” is really a story about conviction in an age where a social media “like” or comment is the strongest action people can take to express their opinion. But with its surprisingly sincere (yet still very witty) ending, it’s also about what helps us surmount our modern self-absorption to become part of a community. When the group’s attitudes finally openly clash in a hilarious battle of words — and are revealed for all their bluster and brokenness — they are also unmasked, allowing characters to begrudingly understand one another. The understanding transforms their dynamic just enough, giving us hope for Canada’s safety after all.

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