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Movie Review: Second Nature (NVFF 2016)
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Second Nature
Written by Michael Cross, JC Ford, Edi Zanidache
Directed by Michael Cross
Starring Collette Wolfe, Sam Huntington, Carollani Sandberg, Carolyn Cox, Riley Shanahan
80 Minutes
Cross Films | Mirror Images LTD
Release date: November 10, 2016 (Napa Valley Film Festival)

In the small town of Louisburg, WA, Mayor Gleason is having a drunken joyride with his mistress, complete with bonus fellatio and some not so bonus driving right off a cliff. This leaves his position open for election.

Queue Bret and Amanda, who both decide to run for Mayor. Bret and Amanda are not a couple. They were childhood political rivals where he won (of course), and now they work together (he’s the boss, of course). They’re initially presented as stereotypes of their gender — she does yoga and listens to affirmation audio, while he watches sports while having sex — but then things go haywire after they each make a wish about how men and women should act. This is the set-up for Michael Cross‘s gender-swapping political comedy Second Nature, starring Sam Huntington (Sully, Superman Returns, Detroit Rock City) and Collette Wolfe (You’re the Worst, Hot Tub Time Machine).

Amanda doesn’t really want to run against him again, but securing her grandma’s safety is worth it to her. Amanda and her eccentric Grandma dig up some buried treasure – a doll, a dildo (Grandma!), and a mirror. After, Amanda goes to the local “Honkers” (tee-hee) to pick up food and runs into Bret, who’s having a campaign fundraiser there. Sound familiar? They end up having a little spat and fight over her mirror:

Her: “I wish that men would behave like women. The world would be a lot better place.”

Him: “I wish women would act like men, it’d be more action, less talk.”

The lights pop out and they are in the dark. And wow! What I thought was going to happen didn’t happen. Everything is topsy-turvy. It is a total gender swap. But how has life changed? And did they change?

“Chivalry is dead,” when Amanda is told when she fails to hold a door open for a guy.

Some other changes (cannot give it all away, but there is so much more!):

– Men wear makeup.

– Women construction workers harass a guy.

– Martha Washington was the 1st U.S. President.

– Protecting a man’s right to a vasectomy is an issue.

– “Woman up, and solve your s***t” Amanda is told when she tries to talk to her friend about the weird switch.

Amanda, obviously, doesn’t want to change things back. Bret, obviously, is desperate to.

This comedy is a lesson in contradictions. It is dark but light; adorable but a lot of raunchy language; and seems superficial but has heavy meaning, especially in this political climate. It really is a darling little movie with a really unique premise, that takes turn after unexpected turn. There is predictability in the stereotyping, but I have to agree with Bret that it seems exaggerated. That might be because I live in a big city. Perhaps small towns are more sexist than that. I’d like to think not. I would add that this exaggeration is necessary to highlight that society is sexist.

The music by Mateo Messina with original tunes by The Filthy Hypocrites provides a nice backdrop to this film, which cannot be classified as a rom-com, but does have that lighthearted feel. Huntington plays this character really well – a nice guy with a douche facade. We suspect from the beginning that he’s not as bad as he is supposed to be, because one, he has to complete this journey in an hour and a half, and two, Huntington just emotes this nice guy energy all the time. It works for this movie.

I really think that given the right distribution, Second Nature has enough of what it takes to make a solid showing at the box office.

One question – Can the sequel be Grandma’s mirror experience?

Second Chance premieres at the Napa Valley Film Festival on Thursday, November 10th, with a bigger release planned for 2017.

Check out our interview with director Michael Cross here.

What if women and men… FLIPPED?
One woman fighting the odds. One womanizer on a winning ticket. One magic mirror to turn it all around.

Gender behavior is flipped when magic dusts over Sam Huntington (Sully, Superman Returns) and Collette Wolf (Hot Tub Time Machine, Interstellar) in the hilarious new comedy Second Nature.

Upon the sudden death of a local politician, Amanda (Wolfe) and Bret (Huntington) both jump at the chance to run for mayor; but the two former classmates have very different ideas about how to run their small town. Amanda hopes to protect her frail grandmother and others in need. Bret, on the other hand, has a pro strip club agenda and is backed by the corrupt and inept city council. Their worlds are flipped around when Bret snatches an antique, magic mirror from Amanda’s hands during a heated argument. In the small town of Louisburg, the most unusual mayor’s race is about to go down.

Second Nature is Seattle filmmaker Michael Cross’ directing debut. Produced by Nicholas Gyeney under his Seattle-based production banner Mirror Images LTD (Beta Test, Matt’s Chance, The Penitent Man). It will have its world premiere at the Napa Valley Film Festival on Thursday, November 10, 2016. The film is expected to be released wide in 2017.

Check out more about Second Nature:

Image Gallery


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