Inside Out 2024 Review | Extremely Unique Dynamic

by Andrew Parker

After getting off to a rocky start, the low budget indie comedy Extremely Unique Dynamic blossoms into something quite surprising and smart. A story of a couple of down on their luck Asian actors trying to make a convoluted meta movie project, Extremely Unique Dynamic is an unpretentious film about two people trying to tell a pretentious story, while learning about themselves in the process.

Daniel (Ivan Leung) and Ryan (Harrison Xu) have been life long best friends, making silly videos together since childhood, which in turn fuels their desire to establish themselves as actors. But after twelve years of trying to make it in L.A., it looks like the constant grind and their close knit friendship is about to come to an end. Ryan is about to move to Edmonton with his girlfriend, and Danny already feels a sense of loss. On their last full weekend together, the buddies agree to make a movie, one that follows a couple of struggling artists trying to work on a meta movie, where they also play characters within the movie. The whole thing is a mess out of the gate, but it does allow Daniel and Ryan to start getting real with each other and talk about their friendship in frank, honest terms.

Extremely Unique Dynamic – directed and written by Leung, Xu, and Katherine Dundas – feels awkward and unwieldy out of the gate, more like a low budget stoner comedy that references tons of more established movies than a film with a clear vision. But gradually and in little over an hour of total running time, Extremely Unique Dynamic morphs into something truly heartfelt and smart. Leung’s performance as perma-stoned Danny is awkward at first, but the film gradually explains where that unease stems from, while Xu plays the straight-laced friend who’s forced to look beyond the obvious for a change.

It’s a project that doesn’t fully work or live up to its potential, but still manages to come around to deliver some unexpectedly delightful emotional beats that sneak up on the viewer. Sometimes it’s better to offer up surprises than put forward a perfect movie. I’m sure Daniel and Ryan would agree with that sentiment.

Extremely Unique Dynamic screens as part of the Inside Out Film Festival on Saturday, May 25, 2024 at 7:00 pm at TIFF Lightbox.

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