Review: [Other Worlds Austin] Science Fiction Tale THE WRONG TODD Explores Parallel Worlds of Love and Loss
Though The Wrong Todd is often referred to as a science-fiction romantic comedy, such a simple description doesn’t do justice to this fun, terrific, and ultimately sweet film. Endearing characters and top-notch performances drive writer/director Rob Schulbaum’s feature debut (based on his 2014 short film of the same name), which deserves to find a wide audience.
Jesse Rosen stars as Todd, a semi-slacker whose girlfriend Lucy (Anna Rizzo) has just been offered a promotion across the country, in Seattle. Todd has rarely ventured outside of their hometown of Providence, and doesn’t take the news well. He hopes to talk things out with his best friend and Lucy’s slacker brother, Dave (Sean Carmichael). Fate intervenes by way of a dimensions-jumping Todd from a parallel universe, where Dave is a responsible family man, and where Lucy has been dead for a few years. Other Todd seeks to replace “our” Todd by sending him to his parallel world, and taking his place with Lucy.
Rather than being a simple evil twin or doppelgänger, Other Todd is a nuanced character who has a sympathetic side to him, though he clearly has a mean streak, too. This feat isn’t easy to pull off, but Schulbaum has written this character and all of the others so well, and Rosen inhabits both Todds so convincingly, that while viewers root for “our” shaggy-dog version, we can’t help but feel that the devious alternative Todd should catch a break or two in life. Rosen is a delight, pulling this off while investing “our” Todd with a charm that has us rooting for a character who initially focuses on selfish concerns and avoids change, even at the expense of wanting his girlfriend to sacrifice her career and life dreams for what he desires.
The rest of the cast is splendid, as well. Carmichael also does a winning job pulling off two different Daves, one a self-centered man-child and the other an emotionally conflicted, grieving man. Rizzo is delightful as Lucy, and Erin Rose is also super as two different versions of Abby, a friend of Lucy’s as well as Other Todd’s wife.
Love, friendship, grief, and change are the predominant themes of The Wrong Todd, and the film manages to explore these concepts without ever falling into hokey or sappy territory. Though parallel worlds/time travel angles combined with romance stories are a tried and true concept, this film explores them in fresh and original ways, never falling into the trappings of the subgenre. Like many of its characters, The Wrong Todd has a great, big heart, plenty of smarts, and a low-key, offbeat appeal.
The Wrong Todd won the Best Feature Film award at Other Worlds Austin film festival, which took place from December 6-9.