An Englishman, American, Frenchman, and Spaniard - not the first line of a joke but the core ingredients of this entertaining feature debut from writer-director Joel Hopkins. Revolving around a road trip from New York to Niagara Falls, "Jump Tomorrow" boasts a hip sensibility and wry quirkiness that recalls Jim Jarmusch's seminal "Down by Law" (1986). But it also has a very European feel, particularly in its refusal to be hurried and subtle accumulation of telling detail.
George (Adebimpe) is a strait-laced African-American who's about to tie the knot in Niagara Falls. But chance encounters with a beautiful Latino, Alicia (Verbeke), and suicidal Frenchman Gerard (Girardot) result in a three-day road trip in the latter's Citroën, forcing George to re-evaluate his priorities.
With James Wilby completing the quartet as Alicia's hippy English boyfriend, the scene is set for an offbeat tale that ambles amiably towards a conclusion that is never much in doubt. Comic highlights include a detour to a kitsch 'Love Lodge' - complete with a Romeo and Juliet suite and rocking bed - and a fantasy sequence in which shy George imagines himself as the macho hero of a Spanish soap opera.
Though the lackadaisical style becomes tiresome after a while, the film is ultimately held together by star-in-the-making Adebimpe. An animator who's only acted once before, he has all the comic grace and timing of a latter-day Jacques Tati. For him alone, "Jump Tomorrow" is worth a leap of faith.
"Jump Tomorrow" is released in UK cinemas on Friday 9th November 2001.