I can certainly understand why young actor Jay Baruchel would be, for many, an acquired taste. He's a bit goofy and neurotic, and up until yesterday I would have called him a brilliant "support" choice -- I just never saw the guy as much of a leading man. His best work to date (as in Tropic Thunder and Knocked Up) comes as either a supporting player or as part of an ensemble, so I was duly intrigued when a Canadian farce called The Trotsky came my way at the Tribeca Film Festival. Could Jay Baruchel carry a 110-minute comedy all by himself?
My fears were entirely unfounded, and here's why: Despite being the title character and being present in virtually every scene of The Trotsky, Baruchel is not carrying anything by himself. The Trotsky is packed with fantastic actors doing some very fun work, and the icing on the cake is this: not only does Jay Baruchel shine as a leading man, but he elevates The Trotsky from gimmicky to provocative with very little difficulty. The kid is a natural comedian, there's no getting around that, but given the right material, one can't help but think Jay Baruchel has a very entertaining career ahead of him.
Written and directed by veteran actor Jacob Tierney, The Trotsky is, quite simply, one of the best "high school comedies" I've seen in a long time. It's the story of young Leon Bronstein, a jittery but well-intentioned prep school student who legitimately believes that he is the reincarnation of noted communist Leon Trotsky. After organizing a (humorously pathetic) strike at his father's company, Leon is thrown to the wolves: Dad sends him to public school for his senior year -- and it takes less than a day for Leon to run afoul of a nasty disciplinarian and her leader, the wonderfully oily principal.
To say that Leon welcomes these stubbornly unpleasant authority figures would be a huge understatement.