Brooklyn quirk is nothing new in the world of independent film, but “Cubby” somehow manages to make its brand of the overused angle largely feel fresh. We’ve seen stories of 20-somethings moving to the big city before, but have we seen one where the protagonist has an imaginary, leather-clad friend born out of his sexual fantasies and a hallucinogen-laced cupcake? Directors Mark Blane and Ben Mankoff bring a kinky sweetness to this oddball dramedy, but audience’s appetites for it will depend on their patience with its lead character.
Indiana resident and aspiring artist Mark (Blane, who also wrote the script) moves to New York where he takes a job as a babysitter for 6-year-old Milo (Joseph Seuffert). His awkwardness and anxiety — and a diminishing supply of Klonopin — make navigating the city and making rent a challenge, but Mark finds stability in his friendship with his young charge. Meanwhile, he sketches gay erotica and flirts with the imagined Leather-Man (Christian Patrick) and cute neighbor Russell (Rodney Richardson).
Shot on 16mm film, “Cubby” looks the part of an old-school New York-made indie, but its dual directors still bring a bit of their own style, particularly in the animation overlays that echo Mark’s drawings. However, Blane’s script often feels more like a sketch, as many moments don’t feel earned or supported by the writing. As a character, Mark can be annoying, but Blane and Mankoff have a clear affection for him, refusing to judge his flaws.
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Glendale