Scott and Sid, 2018.
Written and Directed by Scott Elliott, Sid Sadowskyj.
Starring Tom Blyth and Richard Mason.
Through persistence and trust, unlikely friends Scott and Sid become embroiled in an adventure that leads them through doubts, deprivation and demon-black days, from the desolate back alleys of their hometown to the billboards of Hollywood.
I really have to give Scott and Sid a hand (that is the filmmakers, not the characters): they have created my first ever critic-proof movie.
By critic-proof, I don’t mean that it’s going to make a lot of money regardless of the reviews (it’s an indie movie, there’s rarely much money to be made). No, what I mean is this is a flick that is loaded with pretentious writing, yet its very existence backs that pretentiousness.
Let me explain- Scott and Sid is very clearly based off of the real-life experiences of its writing and directing team, Scott Elliot and Sid Sadowskyj. As the synopsis says, they’re unlikely friends because they occupy that cliche pairing seen in the majority of buddy movies; Scott is the dumb yet street smart member of the duo while Sid is the book smart yet introverted one. If you’ve seen any film or television show with this kind of couple, don’t expect Scott and Sid to radically blow your mind as it plays it relatively safe with this scenario. There is one interesting factor in that both come from abusive households, but it’s soon dropped after the first third to focus on the more annoying elements of the second and third acts.
It’s a shame, because that initial phase of Scott and Sid was a joy to watch. Yes, it’s filled with hackneyed tropes like all the teachers conveniently being a**holes and Scott riding by on the life motto of “YOLO,” but the performances from the cast, particularly the leads Blyth and Mason, are top quality. They really make you invested in these characters and their situations. Some of the most powerful scenes in the film are when they’re interacting with their aforementioned abusive parents as its clear that everyone involved in front and behind the camera has had some real-life experience with this endeavor.
Not only that, but I actually felt that things were developing at a natural pace- both the boys want to make it big in the world, but understand they need to start small. As a result, they decide to venture into the business of oven cleaning. However, even this proves to be a burden as they are rejected by 99 percent of the prospective customers that they try to sell their services too. Not only is the whole part filled with relatable satire, but it was also beautifully edited, showcasing a natural craftsmanship from the team.
But everything falls apart after this because it becomes clear that Elliot and Sadowskyj were more interested in emulating The Social Network than continuing to build on that organic foundation. Time-skips, which have been lazy pieces of storytelling since their inception, are frequently employed to jump to the film’s “action beats,” with the writers evidently forgetting that character growth comes from the drama in-between the action.
Take for example Sid’s decision to go to university, leaving Scott with nothing to do but get a job. Theoretically, the 2-month period in which Sid realizes that college isn’t for him should have been a place where viewers see how his own upbringing contrasts with the social engineering of the other students (what he refers to in the movie as “being normal”). Instead, we get a cringeworthy scene of Sid going to a bus stop, suddenly realizing things aren’t for him, and running off to hug Scott in a scene that reminded me all too much of Mary Jane running to Peter at the end of Spider-Man 2.
Plenty of other similarly wasted opportunities are strewn throughout the final 30-40 minutes, but the one that bugged me the most had to be their climb up the career ladder. We’re just told that these guys somehow turned a door-to-door cleaning service into a profitable small company, and an independent magazine into a million dollar publishing entity. Here’s an idea- if you’re going to run off on the snobbish idea that everyone can bail on school so long as they are “dream chasers,” at least show the “chase” part in full. It was honestly bothersome to watch these guys move forward in life with nothing but contrived obstacles standing in their way like loan sharks. And seriously, loan sharks? The 1930s want their stock villains back.
But the kicker is the ending, where the two decide that running this successful company isn’t enough (because apparently boredom outweighs financial security in today’s world of economic bubbles and crises), leading them to move onto the film industry, which presumably leads to the production of this movie. And it is here that I have to return to my previous point about Scott and Sid being a critic-proof film. I hated just about everything in the film’s last stretch, but I cannot deny just how well shot and put together the flick was. The cinematography looks crisp, the set design has no evident budget cuts, and the acting remains genuine. Blyth and Mason truly inhabit their characters (or should I say their creators?).
So it’s clear that the real Scott and Sid ended up making the right decision, creating a positive feedback loop that proves “dream chasing” is real so long as you put your mind to it. I just wish they had been less pretentious, less banal, and less anti-education about the whole journey.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★