A slightly screwy romantic comedy, Jump Tomorrow becomes increasingly charming as it goes along, especially after first-time director Joel Hopkins stops trying to imitate the visual stylistics of Jacques Tati and simply focuses on his confused characters and the roadblocks they set in the way of their happiness.
George (Tunde Adebimpe), a buttoned-up, Nigerian-born, American-raised travel agent, arrives a day late at the airport intending to meet his bride-to-be, a friend of the family whom he hasn’t seen since childhood. Instead, he encounters two people who change the course of his placid, obedient life, which his unconscious has already begun to sabotage. One of them is Alicia (Natalia Verbeke), a Spanish American student who’s having second thoughts about her own engagement to a pompous British college professor. The other, Gerard (Hippolyte Girardot), an emotionally volatile Frenchman, has just been jilted at the boarding gate by his girlfriend. Realizing that George and Alicia have fallen in love at first sight, Gerard attempts to sublimate his grief by acting as matchmaker. He offers to drive George to his wedding in Niagara Falls, which means they will inevitably cross paths with Alicia and her fiancé, who are hitchhiking along the same route to visit Alicia’s family in what turns out to be a kind of enchanted house on the Canadian border.
Jump Tomorrow takes its somewhat ambiguous title from an early incident where Gerard, who’s drunk and distraught about his failed love affair, is teetering on the ledge of a tall building threatening suicide and George talks him down by suggesting that he can always “jump tomorrow.” The relationship between the hysterical Gerard and the careful, compulsive George is classic screwball material and more compelling than the relationship between George and Alicia, who are essentially the same person. It’s the film’s split identity, however—two parts buddy movie to one part romance—that gives it a certain unpredictability. That, and Hopkins’s quirky casting choices; in particular, the awkward, bespectacled Adebimpe (who at his best moments recalls the Cary Grant of Bringing Up Baby) is an unusual leading man.
The film suffers a bit from what clearly were budgetary constraints, the gaps in continuity suggesting the production may have proceeded by stops and starts. In any event, Hopkins seems to have learned on the job, since he manages the multiple reversals of the last 15 minutes with agility and even some élan.
A tight budget is not the problem with Crazy/Beautiful, which is as overproduced as a Super Bowl soft-drink commercial, so much so that even its potentially insightful moments seem like movie fakery. While it’s the thrill of the forbidden that lures young adolescents to see R-rated movies, it’s pap like this that makes them dismiss PG-13 love stories as totally uncool. Despite a jittery, emotionally flamboyant performance by Kirsten Dunst (looking and behaving like the young Jennifer Jason Leigh) as a hurt and angry rich girl and the sweet steadfastness of hunky newcomer Jay Hernandez as the Hispanic straight-A student whose future is put in jep by his love for her, there’s no life in this expensive after-school special. Completing the cast are Bruce Davison as a wimpy senator who’s clueless when it comes to giving his daughter the support she needs and Lucinda Jenney as the narcissistic stepmom from hell. Taryn Manning, as another desperate teen, matches Dunst’s intensity (and is also willing to show more flesh than the star). John Stockwell directs, which in this case means he follows the Disney guidelines to perfection.