'Chloe & Theo' full of heart, but it still feels false

  • Theo Ikummaq plays an Inuit in the well-meaning message movie "Chloe & Theo."

    Theo Ikummaq plays an Inuit in the well-meaning message movie "Chloe & Theo."

Posted9/3/2015 5:15 AM

Every element in Ezna Sands' overly earnest and simplistic drama "Chloe & Theo" feels false and calculated, right down to its preachy Inuit Christ-figure and its tough New York street hustlers.

The only authentic part of this well-meaning mess is actor Theo Ikummaq, who plays the Eskimo Theo, dispatched by his tribe to warn "the southerners" about a dream in which the sun "kisses the earth" and destroys all life.


Theo arrives in New York City alone, given the mission to speak to "the elders" about the impending disaster. He befriends a cute street urchin named Chloe (Dakota Johnson) who helpfully takes him to the nearest elders -- a retirement home.

Mira Sorvino plays an official who apparently has nothing on her calendar but time to help Theo and Chloe get a bigger stage for the Inuit to deliver a climate change white paper to the United Nations.

Sands' movie reaches for charm and profundity, but both elude the story and direction that veers into unsophisticated, amateurish choices, the chief one being Chloe and Theo's dueling voice-over narrators wrestling for control over who gets to the tell this story.

Johnson made this movie before she shot to stardom as the masochistic hottie in "Fifty Shades of Grey," so the movie "Theo" became "Chloe & Theo." Presumably, that explains the dueling narrators.

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Some of the dialogue screeches ("I watched as the light went out of her little eyes ..."). But once in a while, Theo speaks ("There is so much indifference in this world, I can barely sleep at night"), and for a moment, something feels real.

"Chloe & Theo" opens at the AMC Woodridge Theater. Not rated. 81 minutes. ★

• Dann Gire's Reel Life column runs Friday in Time out!

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