Based on a popular Quebec kids TV series, “Pin-Pon — The Film” is a lightweight comic tale that will have kids laughing up a storm and most parents running for the exits. Released Dec. 17 across the province of Quebec, the pic about a couple of bumbling firemen grossed a less-than-stellar C$23,000 ($15,500) for Lions Gate in its opening weekend. International prospects don’t look encouraging, but the movie should have small-screen appeal in the Great White North via video and network TV.Like the hit series on Canuck specialty channel Canal Famille, the bigscreen “Pin-Pon” focuses on firefighters Pon-Pon (Thomas Graton) and Pin-Pin (Yves Soutiere). The high-concept twist here is that the duo are heading off on summer vacation in their red Beetle convertible to spend some quality downtime at Le Camping du Bonheur. They leave the fire station in the hands of their pal Pouet-Pouet (Philippe Lambert), but he’s desperate to join them on holiday, and convinces the eccentric Uncle Mimile (Julien Poulin) to keep an eye on the firehouse. Remainder of the thin tale includes the appearance of an odd circus family, a little fishing, some sandcastle building and a few gags involving L’Oncle Mimile’s faithful horse, Pepe. Pic relies on obvious slapstick humor, goofy sound effects and melodic tunes to keep young viewers amused; it’s just the formula for the preschool set. But helmer Ghyslaine Cote and scripters Paul Thinel and Paule Marier haven’t made the slightest effort to provide much entertainment for anyone who’s graduated from grade school; they will find the pic draggy even at only 80 minutes. Script would have benefited greatly from a couple of subplots and more memorable secondary characters. Graton, Soutiere and Lambert bring a good-natured energy to the proceedings, and Poulin, usually seen in much weightier roles, looks like he’s enjoying this silly gig. Songs from lyricist Marier and composer Gerard Cyr are fun and catchy enough to appeal to the day-care demo. Other tech credits are just OK.
A Lions Gate Films release (in Canada) of a Vision 4 production, with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund, Telefilm Canada, Sodec, Quebec government, Canadian government, Super Ecran, Tele-Quebec. (International sales: Sonoma Entertainment, Los Angeles.) Produced by Jacques Bonin, Claude Veillet, Carmen Bourassa. Directed by Ghyslaine Cote. Screenplay, Paul Thinel, Paule Marier
Camera (color), Serge Ladouceur; editor, Jose Heppell; music, Gerard Cyr; songs, Marier, Cyr; art director, Michel Marsolais; costume designer, Helene Schneider; associate producer, Lucie Veillet. Reviewed at Complexe Desjardins Cinema, Montreal, Dec. 6, 1999. Running time: 80 MIN.
Pon-Pon - Thomas Graton Pin-Pin - Yves Soutiere Pouet-Pouet - Philippe Lambert L'Oncle Mimile - Julien Poulin With: Anastassia Fomina, Melven Gilbert, Mireille Levesque, Stephane Vallieres. (French dialogue)