“My Best Day”: Meatless Meat in America

My Best Day (2012) written and directed by Erin Greenwell is a quirky, silly, giggle-worthy, and adorable film. It is very well-cast, and, at least for the most part, the actors do Greenwell’s amusing, oddball characters justice. After missing it’s screening at the Queer Film Festival in Melbourne, Australia in March of this year, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch My Best Day at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts this weekend, brought to the screen by Vancouver’s own Queer Film Festival. The festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and will continue to screen a variety of critically-acclaimed queer films from across the globe until August 25, 2013.

Greenwell’s multi-character comedy screened here in Vancouver on Saturday August 17th, just two days after the Queer Film festival’s opening day kick off. My Best Day is definitely funny, but it is not the best film. I found, at 75 minutes long, it was just too short. The ending feels rushed. I would have liked to see all of the subplots, relationships, and character arcs develop more thoroughly. Because as it stands not all subplots are fully fleshed out or resolved.

The film is set in a small town in rural Pennsylvania and centers on Karen (Rachel Style), a young, red-headed receptionist who works for the local refrigerator repair shop. The whole movie takes place in one day. On a bright sunny morning on the fourth of July, Karen receives the usual call about another broken fridge, but something about this phone call is completely out of the ordinary — the man on the other line leaves a name that shocks and excites Karen to her core. This man with this broken fridge, just one town over, may be Karen’s long lost biological father!

However, the usual repair man has had enough of working on public holidays, and abruptly walks out. She knows she has to find a way to get to her Dad’s house and investigate. Karen’s opportunity comes when her friend Meagan (Ashlie Atkinson) stops by the shop. Meagan has her own lesbian drama happening today, as she has just bought a motorcycle to impress pretty girl Heather despite having an amazing, smart, beautiful girlfriend, Amy, who is pissed!  Meagan agrees to pose as a refrigerator repair person for Karen’s sake, but things get a little messy when Karen’s father is not at the house and instead the girls are greeted by her father’s secret gay lover, Eugene, a guy “just crashing on the couch during hard times”.

The plot unravels as Meagan and Karen try to bide more time at the house. Eugene goes out on a hilarious quest for “Meatless Meat,” and Karen’s long-lost gambling addicted sister, Stacy breaks in through the bathroom window to steal their father’s spare change jar. When Karen leaves the house temporarily to reunite with her sister, Meagan is left to deal with Stacey’s little goof of a brother, Ray, who gets an unfortunate injury during a wrestling match with the mailman.

The film is about the dynamics of family both biological and found, and the realities of being a little different. Greenwell shows us that coping with difference can be tricky, especially when living in a small town in rural America, but it can also be exciting, ridiculous and highly amusing. The characters are all strangely charming and their relationships, both quirky and endearing. Greenwell does excellent job portraying a mix of straight, gay, and lesbian relationships and crushes within the film, and besides a couple over-the-top cheesy bits, the relationships between characters are realistic.