Basing a film on experiences akin to those of your lead actor can act as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have that actor’s lived-in memories to inform their performance; on the other hand, you risk letting that overtake your film as the only thing worth talking about. Such is the quandary that Ordinary World finds itself in, starring Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong as an aging former punk rocker on his 40th birthday having to cope with how his now relatively mundane life has changed him.
The story is a fairly stock-standard midlife crisis narrative complete with the protagonist’s bouts of youth-recapturing irresponsibility followed by realizations that he loves his life as it is and has no desire to go back to his so-called glory days. A formula film on its face isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s what is done with that formula that determines how successful the final film will be. Perhaps the biggest component of that is the performances, and surprisingly enough Armstrong makes for a solid leading man. His performance isn’t going to win any awards any time soon, but he worked hard to ensure that he was up to the task of being the center of attention for the film’s entire 90 minutes. His line delivery and body work is solid, and it certainly helps that he has a great supporting cast backing him up, from Selma Blair as his high-powered lawyer wife, to Fred Armisen as an old bandmate intent to throw him an amazing party, to Judy Greer as an agent willing to give him a second shot at making it big in music.
Unfortunately, Armstrong’s acting competency is perhaps the only unique thing this film has going for it, and it isn’t for a lack of trying. The film is coherent, occasionally amusing, and mildly touching in that schmaltzy after-school special sort of way, but aside from its gimmick of starring an actual punk star there isn’t a whole lot to write home about. There is never a moment where the film’s attempts at comedy ever rise above the predictable, and at best only ever inspires a weak chuckle as the situation takes one more spin further out of control. The dramatic portions work better, but only because the film doesn’t bother to take any risks with its material; you’ve heard this kind of story before, and you know how it’s going to end. From the first scene there looms this sense of inevitability to the proceedings that never gets shaken and never inspires more than passive observation.
There are only so many ways of reiterating that something is merely okay, but “okay” is about all that can be said for Ordinary World. I doubt anyone will outright hate it, but it isn’t going to inspire the love of anyone who isn’t a diehard Green Day fan, and even they will only like it for the shallowest of reasons. I have to give the film props for not relying entirely on its lead’s star power, and I have to give credit to Billie Joe Armstrong for proving himself as a capable actor who could potentially have a future in movies. However, at the end of the day, this isn’t a film anyone is going to remember much about after they turn off the television. If only it could have revived that punk spirit it so desperately pines for.