Unconventionally conventional film fest comedy provides room to laugh and think

At first glance, Room For Rent appears to be one of those standard comedy setups, where the protagonist gets a new neighbour who makes his life unbearable, yadda yadda yada. We’ve all been here before, right?

Ah! See, that’s not actually what this film is about. The protagonist, Mitch (Mark Little, who was terrific in Roller Town) is a total jerk who won a $3.5 million lottery while he was still in high school, and instantly became an obnoxious buffoon. After alienating everyone he knows, Mitch blows through his fortune in three years (a frighteningly plausible scenario), and is now in a position where he has to agree to let a tenant rent out a room in his (parents’) house, just to make ends meet.

Carl (Brett Gelman) is the new tenant, a seemingly straight-up guy who gets along great with Mitch’s parents (Stephnie Weir, and Kids In the Hall alumnus Mark McKinney), who pays his rent on time, who helps with the dishes, and who might or might not be harbouring a dark secret …

As I said, this isn’t really about Mitch being plagued by a bad roommate, it’s about Mitch running completely out of options after three years of obnoxious behaviour and bad decisions. We don’t root for Mitch to get his room back, we root for him to finally get out of his parent’s house and get a job. Carl is just the human manifestation of what Mitch had coming to him all along. Big money has kept Mitch a perpetual teenager, and being broke might not be enough to make him grow up.

A funny comedy, conventional enough for first-time festival goers, but still smart enough to inspire conversations afterwards.

Room For Rent screens Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire 4, and Monday, Sept. 25 at 5:15 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire 2 as part of the Calgary International Film Festival. For tickets go to

John Tebbutt is the Video Vulture. He has been writing about obscure and ridiculous cinema since 1997. You can keep up with his nonsense on his websiteFacebook and Twitter.