With its two attractive, mildly alienated young gay male protagonists and HIV-status/societal-homophobia themes, writer-director Eric Mueller’s debut “World and Time Enough” plays like a declawed “The Living End” too sweet-natured to bother hitting the road. While tone skirts excess cuteness and story could have been better developed, feature has enough charm to perform well with gay urban auds.
Leading figures are both in their late 20s: Mark is a conceptual artist whose political (yet incongruously funny) short-lived public projects occupy any time not spent at various despised temp jobs. Joey works as a highway trash collector , which vocation he uses to shore up his fetishistic pile of found junk.
Each are semi-estranged from family: Mark is incommunicado with his widowed dad, while Joey searches for his biological parents in wake of adopted folks’ angry response to his coming out. It was love at first sight for the pair, who’ve lived together for some years in their warehouselike apartment at pic’s start.
Not much happens, though Mueller keeps things bouncy via flashbacks, fantasy scenes, stray bits of pop-culture satire, et al. Viewers know long before Mark does that his father (with whom he’s decided to reconcile) has apparently keeled over dead at his home worktable.
Joey, meanwhile, fights for the attention of a stubborn co-worker/former lover, searches in vain for his “real” parents, and resists a married sister’s attempts to smooth stormy seas between himself and their adoptive mom and dad.
Whimsical tenor is dominated by endearing, puppyish personae of two heroes, with Mark registering as a little daft, Joey a little dim. But deeper exploration of various dramatic currents (especially the seemingly healthy Mark’s “doomed” perception re his HIV-positivity) wouldn’t have hurt, especially when scenario reaches for near-tragedy at the close.
Semi-parodic thumbnail sketches of the homophobic “straight” world are pat. While characters’ quirkiness mostly beguiles on a light Generation X-fantasy level, it sometimes grows too coy. Least successful element is campy stand-up-style commentary of Mark’s best friend David (Kraig Swartz).
Such flaws do little to muss pic’s shaggy appeal, though they limit its impact. The camera-ready looks and charm of leads Matt Guidry and Gregory G. Giles will prove strongest suit for pic’s commercial prospects; with “Go Fish” as its lesbian counterpart, this modestly winning package could emerge as the year’s preeminent date movie for gay male auds.
Tech values are good, with creative use of unfamiliar Minneapolis locales and particularly good editing management of script’s slight, patchwork nature.