By Philip Clarke
CALGARY — In his on-screen lead role debut, Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame) stars in the indie feature film Ordinary World. Armstrong plays Perry Miller, a married man and father of two who wishes he could just relive his glory days back in 1995. Those storied days of old when he was clean-shaven, sported bleach-blonde hair and didn’t have a care in the world. Twenty years later in modern-day New York City, Perry feels like he’s having his own proverbial “mid-life crisis.”
Now he’s bespectacled and his unkempt hair is beginning to grey. Three-day-old stubble sits evenly on his face and his forehead is perpetually creased with lines indicating his true age. His beloved punk rock band is currently “on a hiatus.” He absolutely loathes working in his younger brother Jake’s (Chris Messina) hardware store that once belonged to their father. His in-laws don’t take him seriously at all. Even his own wife (Selma Blair) seems to have forgotten his own birthday turning the big 4-0. It’s only his daughter that seems to be aware of how lost he feels, even though she’s still unsure of how to tell her class what he does for a living.
Jake can’t deal with Perry always being late. Not just that, but when he does actually show up to work, Perry has absolutely zero interest in upping his salesmanship skills whatsoever. Perry is so completely separated from his job living in his own world that he even believes they sell dish soap based off a quiz that Jake gives him just to prove a point.
So as to hopefully get this malaise of responsibility out of his system, Jake gives Perry a thousand dollars to do with what he will. That is of course under the proviso that after his birthday, Perry comes back to work and takes it far more seriously. Perry takes his brother’s birthday gift and goes to the very hoity-toity Drake Hotel. Despite conventional wisdom, Perry wants to spend his money on the famed Presidential Suite.
Perry calls his former band mates to relive his hard-partying punk days. What starts out as an awkward striptease from a birthday-present stripper quickly turns into an all-out rock show that could level the entire building. To make matters worse, his daughter’s school talent show is happening that very same night. Will Perry make it back in time to be there for his family? Or will he resort back to being an immature punk that just wanted to pursue his passion with zero consequences?
We feel the awkwardness of reconnecting with former friends or former flames. We’re with Perry as he feels like a disappointment to his child. We cringe as he feels like he can never live up to his in-laws’ expectations. We hope to have achieved our dreams by the time we’re 40. If we’re already 40, we’re saddened to see that our life didn’t turn out exactly the way we wanted or expected it to.
Ordinary World is equals part sad, charming, and fiercely relatable. Armstrong delivers a performance that he most certainly was tailor-made to play. What parts of the film are Perry and what parts are Armstrong seamlessly blend together in a fictional mirror of reality. The film works the best when Perry is singing and playing guitar, because that’s what Armstrong was always best at. Being a father in real life, Armstrong also feels perfectly at home when he’s being a father to his on-screen daughter. It’s the quiet moments here and there throughout Ordinary World that make the film work.
Ordinary World screens during the Calgary International Film Festival Sept. 26 at the Globe Cinema (licensed screening) and Sept. 30 at Cineplex Eau Claire.AB, Alberta, Bille Joe Armstrong, Calgary International Film Festival, CIFF, CIFF 2016, Cineplex Eau Claire, Globe Cinema, Ordinary World, Ordinary World movie