I’ve always enjoyed movies like Vice Versa and Freaky Friday – movies where the main characters switch lives and get a taste of what life is like from the other person’s perspective. It begs the question of how things would be if you could try out being someone else for a day or a week, and isn’t that something everyone wonders about from time to time? Second Nature, starring Collette Wolfe and Sam Huntington, touches upon that old switcheroo story with a fresh twist to it. It was written by Michael Cross, J.C. Ford and Edi Zanidache and directed by Cross in his feature film directorial debut.
Second Nature was filmed entirely in a small town called Ellensburg, which even goes through it’s own switch, as the story starts off taking place in a small town called “Louisburg”. The Mayor goes over a cliff and dies in a car accident, leaving a vacancy for the position which two well-known members of the community are vying for; Amanda Maxwell (Wolfe), who ran for Mayor before and lost but still holds strong political ambition and Bret Johnson (Huntington), an ego driven and power hungry real estate agent.
Welcome to Louisburg… Er, Ellensburg!
Louisburg is a fictional town that exists in “our” world, dominated by men where women still exist as second class citizens in many ways. Amanda becomes frustrated early on dealing with the sexism at play. During a visit with her grandmother she talks about all the things she could change if only she were Mayor. Amanda and her grandmother dig up grandma’s time capsule that she buried when she was in her 30s and gives Amanda a magic mirror out of it, knowing its bound to shake things up a little.
When Bret takes a jab at Amanda during his fundraiser that is held at a parody of Hooters, called Honkers, for being unmarried with no kids at 35 and has a lousy haircut – and citing that as the reason why she won’t stand a chance against him – that’s when the magic mirror comes out and things get interesting.
Instead of the characters switching bodies or minds, this time it’s the world that changes and they find themselves in a parallel universe, in which the patriarchy doesn’t exist. Louisburg is now Ellensburg. And everything here is the polar opposite of what it was like where they had just come from. Honkers is now appropriately called Peckers. Sweet, shy grandma is loud and crass. Amanda’s timid and insecure assistant in Louisburg is out going and vulgar – acting very much like a beta male. The only things and people that haven’t changed are Amanda, Bret and the hostess at Honkers/Peckers.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Back in Louisburg, it seems that Amanda can’t get ahead. Now in Ellensburg, it’s Bret who can’t get ahead. Between trying to figure out this new world and how to get back to theirs, or in Amanda’s case, questioning whether or not she even wants to go back at all – the clock is running out and the magic mirror is missing. Without the mirror, they have no portal back to Louisburg.
The only way to accomplish anything is by working together, so that’s what Amanda and Bret end up doing. This isn’t a film that’s going to change gender roles and bring about the change in society that will help balance the gender issues we are currently facing in America, but it does a good job at shining a light on it in a humorous way and pointing out the obvious solution: men and women need to work together to achieve a balance and greatness. Even when it comes to serious topics, we need to remember it’s still healthy to poke fun at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. That’s what this film does really well; it doesn’t take itself too seriously and therein lies its charm.
Second Nature is perfectly imperfect, leaving some questions for the viewers and a couple head-scratching moments. And of course, anytime you mess with the time-space-parallel world storylines there are always glitches and loopholes to contend with – like when someone from one world accidentally ends up in the other; for better or worse.
Getting Down to the Technicalities
The cast and supporting cast deserve a solid round of applause as a talented ensemble. The characters were exaggerated in just the right doses. It wasn’t over the top or underwhelming. The cast was able to carry the story all the way through and the story was cute and clever in a low key comedic way.
Wolfe and Huntington are laugh out loud funny. They’re both talented actors who have great reactions to each other, with their non-sexual on screen chemistry. The romantic vibe doesn’t exist between them in this story but there’s a competitive friendship and underlying respect for each other that is consistent through out.
It’s a low budget film which made good use of all available resources, keeping it simple in a small town location. Lighting, cinematography, and score all came together well in editing to create an enjoyable date night comedy.
Second Nature: Conclusion
For a low budget and first feature, I tip my hat to Cross and his team for a job well done. Second Nature is a feel good goofy comedy that takes a poke at gender roles and has a fun cast of characters running the show.
How do you imagine the world would be if the gender roles were reversed in our society? Tell us in the comments below!
Second Nature was released in the United States on November 10, 2016. For all international release dates, see here.
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