“He’s got to figure this one out for himself.”
* * *
We’re not completely pretentious. And though I might be more completely pretentious than my esteemed co-critic — especially in light of my dislike of FUBAR . . . which she never lets me forget — I’d like to note my affection for Red Green, Corner Gas, and Canada in the Rough.
All the same, I was as flummoxed as anyone when I watched The Trailer Park Boys. I reluctantly queued it up, thinking I’d get it out of the way, preparing for a month of other, superior television adaptations.
Maybe it’s related to my disappointment with Hobo with a Shotgun. Maybe it was Gru’s Dope and Liquor Xmas Special review. Well, surprise surprise, I was blindsided, not super-impressed, but amazed I didn’t hate it. Faint praise, perhaps, yet a step in the right direction.
Set in Sunnyvale Park, near Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, this mockumentary follows three main characters: Ricky (Robb Wells), Julian (John Paul Tremblay), and Bubbles (Mike Smith). Low-level criminals, they decide to collaborate on a heist they call “The Big Dirty”, a scheme to steal a small fortune in loose change. Along the way, they’ll solve various tangles, romantic, sporting, and vengeful alike.
While it’s pretty standard stuff, overall, some aspects are strangely twisted. Drinking and driving is general accepted, Ricky’s young daughter is trying to quit smoking, Bubbles is improbably obsessed with kittens, and the plot itself we’re rooting for is intended to fund a grow-op. No doubt all these details are old news to fans, but they were fresh and surprising, at least to me.
Less original humour is mined in familiar pits of cliche: swearing and nudity for their own sake, pranking, childishness and, if you’re a fan of burp-smell jokes, then this one’s got you covered. Of course, it’s all down to personal taste. There are viewers who will watch specifically because of such things.
I went in knowing basically nothing, and was won over time and again. I liked the grain and colour saturation the moment the picture hit. I didn’t expect the mockumentary style, but found it entertaining. Ricky’s malapropisms were fun, for example confusing “prescription” for “description” to hilarious effect.
Most of all I loved the unabashed CanCon of it all. Background theatre marquees trumpeted great Canadian titles: The Dark Canuck, Tiger the Lion, and the Temples of Syrinx. The soundtrack is scattered with hits by April Wine, Helix, Platinum Blonde, Rush, the Tea Party and, best of all, Rough Trade. And notable figures appear in minor roles, including Hugh Dillon (Hard Core Logo), Gord Downie (One Week), Alex Lifeson (I Love You Man), and Jonathan Torrens (Jonovision)!
It behooves me to admit there’s a FUBAR poster in the aforementioned theatre. Gah!
When the movie was done, I was struck by an insight. I realized this ensemble had captured the spirit I’d missed in Duct Tape Forever, a kinder interpersonal chemistry. Despite the characters’ poor decisions, their outlaw status, and so on, they truly felt sympathetic with each other, no matter their differences. That sense of caring made me care in turn, and dispelled many reservations.
No, The Trailer Park Boys won’t be for everyone. Still, if I can enjoy it, there’s hope.
Rated 14A (Canada) / R (United States)
From → (***) three stars, 2000s, CanCon & Canadiana, characters, Comedy, Crime, director, Documentary, financing, Hacker Renders, PG-14A (Canada), production, R (Restricted), setting, shooting location, songs, stars, T, Trailer Park Boys
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