Belly up to ‘Trailer Park Boys’

Like all great works, it’s about the power of change.

By Steve Burgess 6 Oct 2006 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess is a freelance writer and the author of Who Killed Mom?, published in 2011 by Greystone Books.

Born in Norwalk Ohio, home of the famous virus, Steve was raised in Regina, SK, and Brandon, MB. He writes a regular column for The Tyee, often reviewing films but also, sometimes, detailing his hilarious world travels for Tyee readers. Steve is a former CBC Radio host and has won two National Magazine Awards. He has also won three Western Magazine Awards.

Reporting Beat: Travel, pop culture, politics, cobbling, knife sharpening, furnace repair.

Twitter: @steveburgess1

Website: Steve Burgess

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Finally, a good Canuck flick.

Waiting for a film that combines romance, lap dancing, thrilling courtroom drama, and a moving illustration of the power of change? It has arrived, in a vintage Chrysler New Yorker. <i>Trailer Park Boys: The Movie will not disappoint.

The Showcase TV series that has become a true cult favourite and even a small piece of the national identity now leaps to the big screen, and it uses that wider canvas to display naked beer bellies of a depth and breadth that only cinema can allow. Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are at last given the heroic treatment they richly deserve in the new movie by director Mike Clattenburg (legendary for his work in Pit Pony and The Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special).

Like so many great works, Trailer Park Boys: The Movie is about the power of change. Unlike bills, change cannot be traced. There are no serial numbers on loonies, quarters and dimes. So if you steal a bunch of coins you’re basically home free. A lot of coins and, well, we’re talking about a lot of cat food. Enough cat food to last ten years.

Cats, dope and crime

That’s important, because Bubbles needs cat food. How else will he continue to put on the Super Cat shows? And Ricky needs those coins so his daughter can stop stealing barbecues and selling them at the flea market, even though it’s easy and Ricky did teach her how to do it. She should probably stop anyway, pretty soon, maybe.

The heist -- the Big Dirty, they call it -- will be the big score for everybody, a chance for Ricky to get back with Lucy and Bubbles to renovate his condemned shed. But crime is never simple. Someone always forgets to bring enough plastic cups and popcorn bags to hold the loot.

Trailer Park Boys operates in its own little universe. It’s a place where a woman can tell her wayward boyfriend that it’s time for him to get his act together and start growing dope again. A place where love scenes begin with an eight-track cassette of April Wine’s great hits including “I’m on Fire For You Baby.” A place where wedding vows are rewritten to include heartfelt pledges about maybe staying out of jail if possible, and putting a stop to any further plastic surgery. A place where a man can take the good road or the bad, the good road meaning ball hockey and dope, the bad way represented by potato vodka and weightlifting. A place where a man has to stand up for what’s right and tell his friends, “I’m going home to get drunk with my family.” A place where a man -- Julian, of course -- can reply to a bar bouncer’s accusation by saying: “This drink is mine! I brought it from home.”

Good Canuck crap

Tyee readers may recall my recent review of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, an awful piece of crap trying so desperately to be Canadian it was like chugging rancid maple syrup. Trailer Park Boys: The Movie is the reverse -- a movie that is thoroughly, inescapably Canadian, so Canadian that it is hard to even guess how a foreigner might react to it, and yet is all the better for it.

Like Bon Cop, Bad Cop, TPB:TM has its own case of Canuckolalia, at one point offering up a movie marquee with films titled “Wheat Kings” and “The Dark Canuck,” not to mention the April Wine love scene and cameo appearances by Gord Downey of the Tragically Hip and Alex Lifeson of Rush. But unlike that aforementioned bilingual turd, this movie is funny. It features great characters and the best kind of dumb humour -- the smart kind.

In addition to the holy trinity of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles (Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, and Mike Smith), the movie features Lucy DeCoutere as Ricky’s girlfriend Lucy, Nichole Hiltz as Wanda, a truly amiable lap dancer, and Hugh Dillon as Sonny, the evil club owner who, by his own account, has had sex with Lucy no less than 28 times. Gerry Dee is a prison boss so despicable he won’t let Ricky stay inside for the big ball hockey game, and John Dunsworth plays the trio’s drunken nemesis, Jim Lahey.

But in the universe of this Trailer Park, there is no one smarter than Ricky. Lesser men admit to pretending to be him sometimes. And when the chips are down in a court of law, Perry Mason and all the fictional lawyers of John Grisham cannot match him for sheer genius.

If you like the series, you will be in ecstasy. If you don’t, well, never mind. If you’re on the fence, go ahead -- give Trailer Park Boys: The Movie a shot. At the very least you will hear Bubbles speak an eternal truth: “Kitties are not supposed to smell like cigarettes.”

Steve Burgess reviews films for The Tyee every second week.  [Tyee]

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