Canada’s favourite foul-mouthed trio hit the big screen last Friday after an excruciatingly long period of anticipation for fanatical devotees. The film, surprisingly, did not disappoint.
The “surprisingly” modifier is used hesitantly because, let’s face it, 90-plus minutes of rampant alcoholism, recreational drug use, petty criminality and enough vulgarity to make Lenny Bruce blush has the potential to get old fast. It did not. Trailer Park Boys has all the charm, subtlety and gut-busting hilarity that “Parkies” have come to expect from the television series.
Like so many seasons of Showcase’s critically acclaimed television series, the film begins with the boys, Julian (John Paul Tremblay), Ricky (Rob Wells) and Bubbles (Mike Smith), ham-fistedly botching a crime, resulting in Ricky and Julian being sent back behind bars for the umpteenth time. (Bubbles, as is usually the case, somehow manages to elude the long arm of the law). As per the show’s formula, Ricky thinks that jail is “no big deal” and happily whiles away 18 months smoking dope and playing ball hockey while Julian sculpts his biceps, sips on potato vodka and works out the details of the next felony that will subsequently lead to his early retirement from a life of crime.
The rest of the film revolves around the attempts of Julian, Ricky, Bubbles and Corey/Trevor (Sunnyvale trailer park’s dynamically dim-witted duo) to carry out the “Big Dirty” in order to get enough money to prevent eviction from their beloved park. Again, much like the show, the plot is largely ancillary, driven by characters as opposed to narrative. The big-screen personas of the show’s players are just as unassuming, endearing and candid as on the show – though it was lamentable that J-Roc and Ray, two favourite TPB characters, did not garner more screen time.
Director Mike Clattenberg succeeds in judiciously pacing the film, drawing from his veteran experience behind the camera on every episode of the show’s six seasons. The humour is sharp and laughs are many, but Trailer Park Boys also features a handful of “serious” moments, which, though few and far between, are not completely insincere. Exchanges between Ricky and Lucy are especially poignant, adding further dimensionality to the characters and contributing to the film’s cinema-verité style believability.
Though some of the comedic premises are rehashed from the show, the film in no way feels like it is treading water in a time-tested pool of derivative TPB jokes. Granted, if people have failed to jump onboard the Trailer Park Boys train by now, they’re probably forever doomed to squander Sunday night watching crap like the Fox Network’s The War at Home.
The Trailer Park Boys movie is simply more of what fans love: Bubbles’ sweetly innocent rationality, Ricky’s acrobatic usage of four letters words, Ran Ran Bobandy’s cheeseburger walrus gut (especially impressive on the big screen, where it is about 20 feet wide) and ample doses of Lahey’s trademark shit-talk. It is a well constructed piece of comedy and a charming bit of Canadiana (watch for cameos by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downey) that deserves a rightful place in the canon of cult cinema, somewhere between stoner classics like Half Baked and comedies like The Jerk or The Big Lebowski.