Ever since he appeared on the scene with 1991's "Generation X ," the Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland has dissected the absurdities of post-Boomer society with the calm of a gifted surgeon. Books like "Microserfs ," "Girlfriend in a Coma ," and "JPod " speak the language of the Internet age: They're jargon-heavy yet distanced, funny but cool, and they get at the way under-30s are willing to consider their lives without actually living them.
"Everything's Gone Green " is Coupland's first original film script, brought to the screen by director Paul Fox , and it's a charming disappointment that retains the elements that make the writer's novels so good without ever bending them into cinematic shape.
Coupland has written a cautionary coming-of-age tale -- a "Graduate" whose Mrs. Robinson is the idea of selling out and fitting in. The hero, an easygoing Vancouver 20 - something named Ryan (Paulo Costanzo ), is willing to be seduced, too. In the film's first 20 minutes, he loses his job and his girlfriend (neither of which seem to matter very much) and winds up working for a lottery magazine interviewing winners.
Everybody's going for the fast buck, and the more creative the scam, the more society seems to honor it. Why shouldn't Ryan join in? Taken with a lissome set dresser named Ming (Steph Song ) -- her job is to disguise Vancouver as various American cities for Hollywood films -- he allows himself to be drawn into a lottery con by her swaggering boyfriend Bryce (JR Bourne ). Can Ryan's newfound wealth stand up against his one true love's moral compass? Stop me if you've heard this one before.
"Everything's Gone Green" travels light, mostly on the sting of Coupland's tart observations. This is a world of businessmen pot entrepreneurs and parents who set up franchise "grow operations" in their basements; of girlfriends who are stars on Slutcam.com and boyfriends who believe in "pre-emptive Darwinism." "Stop being the poet at the picnic," Ryan's lawyer brother (Peter Kelamis ) warns him, and soon the kid's drinking the Kool-Aid like everyone else. "The middle class?" he snipes. "It's cute but unworkable."
None of this really draws blood, though, because director Fox hasn't found a visual correlative to the writer's caustic yet essentially kindly voice. Costanzo and Song are sweeties who earn our sympathy, but they're also bland and underwritten, and the film's been shot in such a flatfooted style that they never become fully human. "Everything's Gone Green" tells, but it rarely shows.
Still, the movie goes down easily enough, and if you're at the right age and place in life -- just moving "beyond IKEA bookcases and entry-level sedans," in the words of Ryan's ex -- it may strike home with force. It's infused with an intelligent niceness that can only be called Canadian and that feels refreshing and bloodless at the same time.