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I, Challenger review – endearing stoner hero gets buried alive

James Duval is the likable dummy who thinks self-interment will bring him some of the luck he’s down on

James Duval, the man who played Frank the Rabbit in Donnie Darko, is the star of this intriguing stoner comedy-drama, whose wacky/terrifying premise almost lives up to the legendary interdimensional bunny. He plays Sid, an inveterate LA toker and online gamer (Challenger is his digital ID) who, 40 years old and going nowhere, decides to bury himself alive and livestream the ordeal on the internet. Based on the YouTube videos of some Russians who’ve done the same thing, he believes it will bring him good luck.

The ploy is all the more surprising, because for the first half-hour writer-director Paul Boyd keeps us firmly in Lebowski land. Sid is Echo Park’s resident friendly neighbourhood dealer, handing out complimentary joints to the schoolkids he sells kush to. After being replaced by a robot in his last job and with his rent in arrears, he’s resigned to being “a loser”. He can’t even win at Tinder: he finishes a date cable-tied to the bed by a dominatrix. He’s eventually freed by Logan (Coy Stewart), the twentysomething gaming partner who agrees to supervise the burial.

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