CONTROL ALT DELETE Movie Review – Toronto Film Festival

     September 3, 2008

Reviewed by Monika Bartyzel

Ryan Gosling isn’t the only Breaker High alum dancing through the world of cinema. There’s also Tyler Labine. However, while Gosling gets to romance the likes of Rachel McAdams and Kirsten Dunst, Labine gets a hot and sexy … computer.

Yes folks, Control Alt Delete is the story of a man and his love of computers – not the allure of tapping keys and coding, but real, physical love. Lewis Henderson is a computer geek in 1999 who has somehow scored himself a sexy girlfriend named Sarah. However, life with his better half has become strained because Lewis has lost sexual interest in her, choosing instead to partake in late-night rendezvous with tacky porn websites. Then Sarah leaves him. With no watchful eye and relationship restrictions, his cyber-love increases to hardware love, his sexuality requiring not pictures of people shining on the monitor, but carefully drilled holes in the side of his computer case.

Meanwhile, Lewis works as a programmer and gets a promotion at work. He must coordinate the last-minute preparation of a computer system before Y2K hits. While perfectly suited for the task, he can’t concentrate. The allure of the sexy hardware is too much. He secretly begins to have his way with the hardware at work, creating chaos. His boss, Angela, vows to find the “computer rapist,” while Lewis dives for cover by trying to date the friendly new receptionist, Jane. Of course, the confusion doesn’t stop there, and as for the perversion, well, this only the tip of the iceberg.

Arriving in the wake of Young People F**king, Control Alt Delete is the latest in Canadian-themed looks at youth and sexuality (Jane is even played by YPF star Sonja Bennett). Written and directed by Cameron Labine, Tyler’s brother, Control Alt Delete is a great look back into time at the paranoia of Y2K intermingled with modern looks into technological fetishism. Better yet, it’s free of the unrealistic and over-the-top attempts to make geeking cinematic – Labine uses DOS prompts, and never flies into glittering, glowing screens of numbers as he tries to fix the software. Labine lavishes in the retro feel, rather than trying to stylize it.

Balancing the nostalgia with the quirk, and adding a myriad of laughs, Control Alt Delete is a simple and straight-forward romp. Labine takes the material and presents it with a shrug. Yes, Lewis’ penis is a menace to computer cases everywhere, but while the subject matter is weird, the story is not. Think of it like American Pie – while those crazy kids were trying sex with a pie, or band equipment, they were still presented as run-of-the-mill teens. And that’s Lewis. He’s got a weird new fetish, but he’s just an awkward guy.

Control Alt Delete is fun, strange, and a whole new road for geek-themed cinema.

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