Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2013: Motivational Growth

As you can probably tell, I see (and actively seek out) more than my share of weird movies from around the world. Believe me, if it looks like it was directed and written by someone on a heart-stopping amount of peyote, I was probably first in line. Despite this, I have never seen much of anything I could even remotely compare to Don Thacker's Motivational Growth. If I were to tell you that this movie was about a man who, after a failed suicide attempt, starts to take life advice from the sentient mold growing in his bathroom, that would barely scratch the surface of what I saw over the course of Motivational Growth's 100-minute running time. What I can be sure I saw, though, was an exercise in gross. You'll see pimples being popped, all manner of grime, and even mold being consumed, and that's only for starters. As with fellow After Dark selection Septic Man, you'll want to watch this movie at a safe distance from any potential meal you might be having.

Motivational Growth is the story of Ian (Adrian DiGiovanni), a shut-in couch potato (think Don McKellar in Twitch City) who spends his days watching infomercials and bad cop shows on an absolute relic of a television he's named 'Kent'. When 'Kent' inevitably blows a fuse and dies, Ian goes through the many stages of grief before deciding to kill himself using the fumes from some cleaning products. When this fails, Ian realizes that the mold behind his bathroom sink  (a remarkable work of puppetry voiced by Jeffrey Coombs) is not only sentient, but also willing to give him advice on how to get his life back on track. This, of course, leads to Ian (who the mold calls 'Jack') actually consuming the mold in a kind of bizarre Alice-and-the-mushroom situation.

The whole thing is completely off the wall and, because of its lack of sets and Ian's long monologues to the audience, feels a lot like a stage play. It does tend to drag a little in the middle, but definitely picks up again at the end. There's a little something here for almost anyone, including the hilarious fake TV shows, the excellent chiptune-based soundtrack, and even lengthy animation sequences that look like they came from a Super Nintendo game. Problems aside, Motivational Growth is definitely going to be one you'll want to get off the couch, give 'Kent' a kick, and leave your apartment to see.



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You can find more information about the Toronto After Dark Film Festival at the official site here.

Photo: This is a photo of mold. Not just any mold, though. Talking, advice-dispensing mold from Motivational Growth that's voiced by Star Trek DS9's Jeffrey Coombs.

This review was written by Sachin Hingoo, a freelance writer when he is not working at an office job that is purpose-built for paying the bills while he works as a freelance writer. His writing has appeared on Mcsweeneys.net, the CBC Street Level Blog, Ohmpage.ca, and The Midnight Madness Blog for the Toronto International Film Festival. He has also been featured at Toronto lecture series Trampoline Hall (which is rumored to be excellent). His mutant power is 'feigning interest'. You can read all of his posts here.


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