Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor
What do you get when The Flash camera extraordinary, Jeff Cassidy, enlists three of the biggest TV stars for a new kind of superhero film? The beautifully crafted 15-minute short film, Sidekick. In a TV and film landscape filled to the brim with superheroes, Sidekick breaks through the clutter and creates a short film filled with heart.
Sidekick tells the story of James (Josh Dallas) and Emma (Emily Bett Rickards) as they deal with tragic news. One night, James puts their young son, Billy (Christian Michael Cooper), to bed and he spins an elaborate story to make him feel better. He tells the story of Captain Strong (also Dallas), who fell in love with a beautiful Princess (also Rickards) in need of rescuing. But with every superhero there comes a super villain. The villainous Darkman (Tom Cavanagh) is out to kill Captain Strong and torture the Princess. The only way to save Captain Strong is if his sidekick rises. Written and directed by Jeff Cassidy, Sidekick uses the superhero genre to tell an even bigger story.
Jeff Cassidy’s script is the heart of Sidekick. The superhero moments are filled with destroyed city streets and amazing special effects, but the soul of this short film lies in Cassidy’s script. He intricately weaves together the real world storyline with the superhero one. As a viewer, we know there’s something devastating happening in the real world, but it’s never explicitly said what. Cassidy leaves the audience inferring, which makes the short film all the better. We don’t need to know what’s happening with James, his relationship with Billy and Emma propels the story forward. Cassidy creates this world with enough complexity to leave us guessing, while still making it a story we can all relate too. Sidekick goes above and beyond because it shows us the morality in ourselves and even superheroes.
Sidekick hinges on Dallas’ perform as both a superhero and just a normal father. He struggle to make sure there is a life for his family long after he’s gone. His epic superhero moments are only exemplified with his intimate moments with Rickards and Cooper. Sidekick opens with Emma and James sharing a quiet, heartbreaking moment in the car. Although no words are exchanged, it’s a scene that sets the stage for the rest of the film. James weaves an intricate story and Dallas allows fans to hang on every single word. He breathes life, depth, and hope into Sidekick and it’s breathtaking.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Arrow, you already know that Emily Bett Rickards thrives in emotional moments. Simply seeing her on screen crying is enough for us to reach for a box of tissues. Although she’s in a superhero short, Rickards plays a character far from Felicity Smoak. She’s a mother and a wife, who can’t seem to find a way past the tragedy in her life. The change of character is jarring at first, but as the film progresses, Rickards proves she will have an extensive career long after Arrow. Emma’s most heartbreaking moment comes when she’s sitting in their living room rewatching her wedding video. A moment lacking any dialogue, Rickards shines.
“This is a love story.” Although Sidekick focuses more on the father/son relationship, the love story is essential. Dallas and Rickards lead this short film and it’s a match we never thought of, but would love more of. Although the first few minutes can be spent in awe of the fact that Rickards is not only married to Dallas, but also has a child, their relationship is beautifully crafted. As an audience, we enter their life in the midst of tragedy. They are growing a part, which prompts James to tell Billy this superhero story. In the few scenes they have outside of the superhero world, Dallas and Rickards create a very loving couple.
Tom Cavanagh brings the villainous Darkman to life in Sidekick perfectly. Very reminiscent of playing Harrison Wells in season one of The Flash, Cavanagh proves he can play the bad guy just as well as he can play the good guy. Cavanagh goes toes to toe with Dallas in Sidekick’s epic fight sequences coordinated by Jon Kralt.
Meanwhile, the little heart of Sidekick comes from Christian Michael Cooper as Billy. He adorably holds his own in both the real world and the superhero world. Dallas, Cooper, and Rickards create the perfect little family as they struggle with their real life problems. Cooper holds his own against these powerhouse actors and it’s a sight to behold. Between his adorable moments with Dallas and the tear-inducing scenes with Rickards, Cooper brings his A-game. Cooper can be seen in the Prison Break reboot in 2017 where he will no doubt hold his own there as well.
The acting in Sidekick may bring it to life, but the cinematography, visual effects, and score by Blake Neely adds depth to the short. Beautifully shot in the streets of Vancouver, the cinematography brings the superhero story James tells to life. The slow motion moments add to the intensity as Darkman and Captain Strong go head to head. While the cinematography in the story is beautiful, the close ups of Dallas and Cooper lying in bed make Sidekick all the more intimate. The close ups of James talking to Billy allow audiences to fall in love with these characters even when no dialogue is exchanged. Alongside the cinematography, the stunning visual effects and a breathtaking score by Neely make Sidekick all the better.
Sidekick tells a different kind of love story. From the brilliant mind of Jeff Cassidy, Sidekick proves there are many ways to tell a story about love and loss. Dallas and Rickards will make you cry with their irrevocable love story while Cooper provides the heart. Take 15-minutes out of your day, grab a box of tissues, and watch Sidekick, you won’t be disappointed.