Whole New Thing (Canada; 92 min.)

directed by: Amnon Buchbinder
starring: Aaron Webber; Daniel MacIvor; Rebecca Jenkins
Whole New Thing

Bruce says: "Emerson (Aaron Webber) is the son of ecology minded parents. His mother Kaya (Rebecca Jenkins) designed their house made of bales of straw and his father is Roger Thorsen (Robert Joy) billed as 'Saving the World, One Invention at a Time.' His parents are excited when Emerson has his first wet dream. They believe home schooling is preferential to the traditional classroom.

"The problem is that Emerson is not doing very well in math. To help him beef up his skills in preparation for college entrance exams his mother enrolls him in the local school. She feels the teacher, Don Grant (Daniel MacIvor), will be good for Emerson. From the first day of school the boys bully Emerson calling him a fag. On the first day he returns home with a black eye.

"As Emerson becomes ostracized he begins to have feelings towards Mr. Grant. Kaya and Roger’s relationship is becoming strained and Kaya has made overtures towards Denny, a sexy local who thinks she is sexy, too. Don Grant, meanwhile, is struggling with relationship issues of his own. He had a partner who left him because he was unfaithful and now his physical contacts are limited to a particularly active men’s room on the outskirts of town.

"At Emerson’s suggestion Mr. Grant agrees to scrap teaching Snowboard Snowjob and teach As You Like It instead. Everything whirls together at once when Emerson stays home from school one day and Don tries to find him. It’s a game of who’s following whom and the chase passes through the men’s room where Don gets all his action. Lots of craziness follows.

"The acting is very good; I never tire of seeing Rebecca Jenkins and Daniel MacIvor (seen together in both WILBY WONDERFUL and PAST PERFECT). The writing is crisp, occasionally a little too pat giving one the feeling of watching a sitcom. That often happens when the lead - in this case Emerson - is precocious. This is a very good coming of age story, one where the adults have as much to learn about themselves as the teenager. 4 cats

"WHOLE NEW THING was shown at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival."


Michael says: "After being home-schooled by a pair of environmentalist, former hippies, Emerson is sent to high school much to his chagrin. When he finds his English teacher Don Grant is actually far more cultured than the backwoods Western Canada town they live in, Emerson becomes intrigued. He is further intrigued when he deduces that Mr. Grant is gay. Filled with churning emotions, the precocious Emerson revels in his student-teacher crush, heedless of the consequences. Buchbinder and Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor have written a smart and funny coming-of-age drama that maintains its originality while telling a familiar story.

Aaron Webber does a terrific job as the intelligent yet emotionally immature Emerson, and MacIvor brings his easy, natural style to the role of Don Grant. Rebecca Jenkins is excellent as Emerson’s mother, who is frustrated by the righteousness and remoteness of her husband and finds solace in the arms of a neighbor. There are just a couple forays into the realm of unbelievable in a smart, and funny screenplay that borrows from MacIvor’s own experiences from his youth. 4 cats.

"WHOLE NEW THING was shown at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival."


Chris says: "We’ve all seen the one about a young student developing a crush on an adult teacher, but how about one where both parties are of the same gender? Emerson (perfectly cast Aaron Weber) has been home-taught all his life when his progressive parents (Rebecca Jenkins and Robert Joy) decide he needs a small taste of public school. Refreshingly, Emerson is fairly well-adjusted and self-assured (more so than Max Fischer in RUSHMORE), although he’s still seen as a freak by his small-town classmates. However, he has no trouble relating to his literature teacher, Mr. Grant (Daniel MacIvor, who co-wrote the screenplay), an affable but lonely gay man who frequents public restrooms for sex. Emerson’s burgeoning crush on Grant is believable and sensitively handled, and the film’s resolution is succinct and teeming with unexpected epiphanies for more than one of the film’s figures. A subplot where the mom cheats on dad distracts from the central story, and director Amnon Buchbinder doesn’t quite reach that transformative place MacIvor did in his film WILBY WONDERFUL. But compared to a lesser, similar movie like THE RAGE IN PLACID LAKE, this is a smart, engaging, well-intentioned character study about individuality and friendship. 4 cats

"WHOLE NEW THING was shown at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival."