SECOND NATURE

PrintE-mail Written by James Evans

After the mayor of small town Louisburg dies during a driving-sex-drugs mishap, it opens up the need for his inevitably vacated office to be filled. Bret (played by Being Human US and Superman Returns alumni Sam Huntington) quickly puts himself forward as a candidate and so, after some thought, does Amanda (Collette Wolfe, Interstellar). The race, therefore, becomes about man versus woman as much as (or indeed more than) anything else. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t the first in a line of grim spins on the 2016 US presidential election to no doubt come but instead, a comedy that seeks to comment on gender roles, stereotyping and how men and women interact.

Bret and Amanda have grown up in the town and work together but each has different lives. While Amanda works on staying healthy and self-improvement, Bret is…well, Bret is pretty much your average clueless no-reason-to-know-better male pig. The set-up is Amanda is frustrated with the patriarchy that has restricted her throughout her life (and the lives of other women around her) and negotiates casual and more insidious sexism on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Bret has probably never had any level of deep thought his entire life, because he’s a man and he doesn’t need to, and in this world, most things come easy to him. Amanda wants to be mayor to make a difference, Bret wants to be mayor just because.

The obvious route would be for these two opposed characters to swap bodies, but instead, the device used is a magic mirror that reverses the roles of men and women entirely. In this new world instead of Honkers, there’s a restaurant called Peckers and the men wear make-up.

Amanda is quick to twig something isn’t right, and Bret slowly follows suit. Now they have to work together to figure out if they can put things back to the way they were, all while negotiating the rules of their new world. As you might imagine, this is not exactly delicate stuff. It’s broad strokes role switching: men worry about being judged by their looks but the women don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. Women have been responsible for much of the progress in history (but men did burn their jockstraps during the ‘masculism’ movement…).

Though unlikely to make legions of chauvinists regret their ways, and probably preaching to the converted in those that seek it out, it has plus points. Huntington and Wolfe do well as for her the understandably initially-quite-enjoying-it-actually Amanda and for him, the douchebaggy Bret and the film benefits from their timing and performances.

Second Nature is pretty slight and plays more like a TV pilot for a series that never was. As noted it’s generally sledgehammer subtle where the jokes are concerned but that isn’t to say some of them don’t hit the mark. Overall, a reasonable go at using comedy to say something about the world and trying to entertain while doing it.  Even if the results are not particularly substantial it's hard to dislike the attempt.

SECOND NATURE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL CROSS / SCREENPLAY: EDI ZANIDACHE, J.C. FORD, MICHAEL CROSS / STARRING: COLLETTE WOLFE, SAM HUNTINGTON, CAROLLANI SANDBERG, CAROLYN COX / RELEASE DATE: TBC


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