The world ends with neither a bang nor a whimper in Don McKellar's sly, dry comedy Last Night. Instead, there's a kind of collective shrugging of the shoulders, as if to say, "Well, what can you do?" In the disaster scenario cooked up by McKellar, who also stars as Patrick, a loner faced with the loneliest moment of all time, everybody's known for a couple of months that the sky will fall precisely at midnight on New Year's Eve--how, we're never told. The upside of knowing is that people can plan. The downside is waiting. Life, in that awful way it has, goes on. And the great cosmic joke at the heart of Last Night is that it goes on more or less the way it's always gone on. When Patrick shows up for a final family Christmas, which has been moved back a week, his mother badgers him for being late...again. And his father, who's all but drowning in false cheer (as one imagines him doing every Christmas), says, "Would it hurt you to play along just once, today of all days?" You get the impression it would hurt Patrick to do that, even once. Sardonic as hell, he's still grieving about his girlfriend's recent death, which makes the coming apocalypse seem like just another excuse for not getting out of bed. McKellar, who looks and sounds like a cross between Jay Mohr and Bronson Pinchot, mines laugh after laugh with a delivery so deadpan you want to check him for a pulse. Then Patrick runs into Sandra (Sandra Oh), a woman who's desperately trying to make her way across town to be with her husband during their final hours on earth. Sandra's car has been flipped over on its side by rioters; and Patrick, in trying to help her get another one, starts to feel not so lonely. Last Night, though never far from our funny bones, also tries to sidle up next to our hearts, à la Stanley Kramer's 1959 atomic disaster film On the Beach. It doesn't just laugh in the face of danger, it sheds a discreet tear, asking the $64,000 question: "At the end of the day--all days--who are we?"
And so we're introduced to Patrick's friend Craig (Callum Keith Rennie), who's devoted the last months of his life to fulfilling every sexual fantasy he's ever had. And to a gas-company employee (played by David Cronenberg) who spends his final hours calling up customers to reassure them that their service will continue right up to the end. Like some long-lost "Twilight Zone" episode, Last Night weaves all its characters into a plot that's supposed to evoke the fabric of a community--in this case, Toronto in particular, Canada in general. And if McKellar doesn't quite convince us that the whole world is ending, he does provide us with a blistering satire on the Canadian temperament's ability to carry on, no matter what obstacles are thrown before it. "We can't stop the clock," a radio DJ who's working his way through the top 500 songs of all time tells his understandably distracted listening audience, "but we can make it go a little smoother." Gee, thanks