by Jay S. Jacobs
With interest in politics at a high-water mark in the United States due to an unusually intriguing race for President, perhaps it is a happy coincidence that the film Blue State positions a breezy romantic comedy in the midst of ancient history: the fallout of the Bush-Kerry election of 2004.
The movie stars Breckin Meyer as John Logue, a former Kerry campaign worker who on the eve of the election drunkenly brags on TV that if Bush were elected he would move to Canada. The next morning, with the results he crashes, losing his hope, losing his job and losing his lover. With nothing else to lose and everyone congratulating him for standing for his principles, John decides to make good on his threat to leave the country.
He puts up an ad to find a companion for his road trip and ends up sharing his car with Chloe, a blue-haired, nose ringed younger woman who also claims to be disgusted with the outcome of the election. However, as they drive over the miles it turns out that she is not as progressive as she originally suggested. She has a much more personal reason for crossing the border.
As they cross the west coast they slowly come to like each other and then an attraction forms. However, there is still the age-old question: can love and politics co-exist?
One thing has to be said, Meyer is able to very convincingly play a man who despises everything which George W. Bush stands for. However, when asked about how he got into the mindset of the role, Meyer laughs good-humoredly but leaves his own beliefs vague. After all, he is just an actor playing a role, right?
“A lot of this was based on Marshall Lewy, the [writer and] director,” Meyer explains, “his experiences when he was stumping for Kerry. It was interesting, Marshall and I sat down initially and he gave me a bunch of books from his hit list of books that he enjoys. The part I liked about it was it was both sides. It wasn’t just left, left, left. He wanted me to read Al Franken stuff for the fun, but at the same time he wanted me to read Ann Coulter and then John Kerry and then back to [Sean] Hannity. It was a lot of fun getting into it. But, while we were doing it, the public opinion was shifting a bit.”
For a romantic comedy, the movie touches on some controversial themes – including the war in Iraq and the red state/blue state divide. It was this topical yet nuanced script which made Meyer sign on the low-budget independent film. He liked that it could have a point-of-view and interesting things to say – without being strident about them.
“Before I met with Anna and Marshall and Andrew [Paquin], the thing I liked about it was it didn’t just hammer me over the head when I was reading it,” Meyer says. “It didn’t just preach to me. The thing I liked was that John was flawed. He wasn’t a movie-perfect Democrat. He was guilty himself of just spouting off soundbites a lot and things he heard. He contradicted himself. He wasn’t perfect. I liked that.
“Politics is a big part of the movie, but hopefully at the forefront [is the relationship between] two different, odd-couple people. When I sat down with Anna [and] auditioned… we just clicked. She’s definitely in the top… top one… of [the] favorite actresses that I’ve ever worked with. We were so close. She was just fantastic. It really is a two-hander.”
The film is a labor of love for Paquin. As well as starring in the film she and her father produced it. Meyer says that this devotion to the story was catching amongst the cast and crew.
“She was passionate,” Meyer explains. “With an independent film, nobody is there for the money. People are there for the love of the game. Everyone is there because they feel passionate about the project. It definitely helps to know that when you’re running out of money or it’s a late night or we lose a location or something.”
So, is there anything Meyer feels so passionately about that he would leave his old life behind for it – like his character does?
“It’s really tough because I’m in a different position than John. He was scraping the bottom there with his life. Life was kicking his ass,” Meyer laughs. “He just got dumped. He really had no ties here, other than his buddies. Which is different for me, I have family. It would be real hard to up and leave, but I would do it for them. Jeez, I don’t know. It’s hard. It would be a really hard decision.”
However, despite all the political trappings, when you get down to it Blue State is a road trip love story. Meyer does recognize that this fact may get overlooked because of the characters’ backstories.
“It’s possible, sure,” Meyer admits. “I think if someone sees it, they’ll get it. But, if you hear the one line of the movie is about a guy who moves to Canada after Bush gets elected…. Yeah, the politics are there, and I don’t think it necessarily tries to hide them, but I do hope that when people see it they do get more than just a left-wing guy and a right-wing chick yelling at each other.”
The thing is, first and foremost, Blue State is a romantic comedy. Granted, it has some very serious aspects, but it is not an overly-serious film. Still, Meyer, who has tended to work on lighter comedies like Road Trip, Garfield and Inside Schwartz, enjoyed the opportunity to do some more dramatic work as well.
“It was one of the things I liked about it,” Meyer says. “It was one of the things that attracted me to the project, that it wasn’t broad comedy. It was funny, but it had to be played real. This relationship really had to be believable. It was a comedy, but it wasn’t a big, broad, wacky film. It gets a little wacky when they get to Canada, where the fun is, but that’s not John – it’s more about the world around John, the wacky stuff.
Life in Canada is rather weird in Blue State, but Meyer is hopeful that our northern neighbors will not be offended by how they were portrayed.
“You know it’s tough,” Meyer laughs. “That whole household is crazy, and it’s filled with Americans and Canadians. Some of the crazier people are Americans as well, escaping to Canada. I don’t know if our Canadian brothers will be mad. [On the plus side] we have curling, and we shot at the oldest curling place [in Canada]. I loved the curling. There are not a lot of movies with curling in them.
“Blue State was kind of a dream project because it was both [comic and serious]. The comedy wasn’t being played broad. My favorite actors growing up were like Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks, people who always juggled both sides. That’s always something I wanted to do – to be able to do both.”
Meyer is happy with the direction of his career with very few exceptions. “Seth Green and I get mistaken for each other way too much. But we work together, so it’s all right,” he admits, laughing.
However, someday he’s hoping that he will look back on a creative and varied career like his heroes.
Most importantly, in terms of his livelihood, he hopes that in twenty years, “I’d like there to be one,” he laughs. “If there still is one, I’m happy. If I could get 1/10th the résumé that Michael or Tom Hanks have, I’ll be in heaven. I know I’m not alone in this. There are a lot of actors I’ll talk to and I’ll be like; well, you know, Michael, Richard Dreyfuss and Tom Hanks are the reason I started doing it. On more than one occasion people are like, ‘Oh, me too!’”
For Meyer, Blue State is an interesting place to start in on that juggling of styles. It has a point of view, yet it is still enjoyable in a purely entertaining level if you don’t know Dick Cheney from Lon Chaney. (And really, who does know the difference, except that Lon is a little less scary?)
Besides, with the US going through the most interesting Presidential election in years, maybe the world is ready for a love story based on the political divide. This interview took place the day after “super-Tuesday,” the day when 24 states held Presidential primaries – and Meyer hopes that the passion people are feeling for the political process may get some people to look at the film.
“Right now, it’s I guess mild-Wednesday, but after super-Tuesday I’d hope that politics are on people’s minds and they’d say, ‘You know what? I wouldn’t mind watching a fun romantic comedy about what’s going on right now.’ It was interesting because it’s recent enough – the Kerry-Bush thing – and especially [important] right now with what’s going on. It’s definitely got a point of view. It’s relevant right now.”
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Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2008.