An Insignificant Harvey is an insignificant Canadian movie that does, nonetheless, serve as a decent showcase for a relatively unheralded Canuck talent.
That would be Jordan Prentice, the dwarf actor who stole In Bruges right out from under Colin Farrell. Though he has often performed to great comic effect (in films such as Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and the HBO series Call Me Fitz), An Insignificant Harvey represents both a serious turn and a starring opportunity for Prentice.
Not that An Insignificant Harvey is without its light moments (although, with the exception of an opening scene in which Prentice's protagonist dreams of being a hunted raccoon, I'd hesitate to call these moments funny).
Most of the intended comic relief is provided by Steven McCarthy as a drug-dealing best friend one degree removed from Scooby-Doo's Shaggy.
A character play, light on actual turns of events, An Insignificant Harvey introduces us to the dour existence of Harvey Lippe, a cleaner at a ski resort in a shabby Northern Ontario town. Raised in a local orphanage by the town priest (Art Hindle), Harvey works for a boss who demeans him and lives in a trailer, unreliably heated by a propane stove.
Two females enter Harvey's life at the same time -- one a stray Husky (which he initially mistakes for a wolf), the other a bartender named Dakota (Kristin Adams), who works in the town strip bar. Many a dog has served as an icebreaker between a man and a woman, and so it goes here.
Inca the Husky (her actual name as well as her "character") is a versatile performer, who licks faces eagerly, stays and sits on command. She gives the movie a "cute" factor that mostly keeps it from descending into torpor (and more props to Prentice for keeping the movie focused on him with a cute mutt around).
Inca, unlike Dakota, has no trouble committing. And Dakota, like other humans in the movie, is essentially rootless (she lives in a home she's housesitting). If rootlessness could be the basis of a relationship, Harvey and Dakota would be a no-brainer as a couple. But the relentlessly melancholy Canadian indie music in the soundtrack clues us into the futility of their snowy relationship.
Meanwhile, Lucas (McCarthy) serves as an oddly placed third wheel. A fellow orphan who, unlike Harvey, was actually adopted, he is faithful to his little buddy (and engrossed in creating a luge run that is supposed to be a metaphor for flight or something). But their shared history also symbolizes how unwanted our short-statured hero feels in his frozen world.
It's not like the world was demanding another Canadian movie about smalltown alienation and anomie. Still, if that's what he's after, director/writer Jeff Kopas succeeds in painting a winter millieu that practically screams "Seasonal Affective Disorder."
And Prentice makes the most of his close-up in An Insignificant Harvey, creating a believable outsider and giving him a soul.
This film is rated 14A