A blue chip cast is wasted in the painfully unfunny ensemble comedy "Niagara Motel," about a gaggle of self-absorbed nitwits struggling to make ends meet on the Canadian side of the tourist mecca. Pic may check in to undemanding fests for a one-night stand and could shack up with cablers prior to homevid oblivion.

A blue chip cast is wasted in the painfully unfunny ensemble comedy “Niagara Motel,” about a gaggle of self-absorbed nitwits struggling to make ends meet on the Canadian side of the tourist mecca. Pic may check in to undemanding fests for a one-night stand and could shack up with cablers prior to homevid oblivion.

Ensemble’s most recognizable faces, Kevin Pollak and Craig Ferguson, work to inflate self-consciously lascivious material as a shifty porn producer and alkie motel manager, respectively. Anna Friel is intense as a drug-addicted mother trying to regain a child, while Wendy Crewson is dependably classy as half of a marriage going rapidly south. Caroline Dhavernas, star of short-lived skein “Wonderfalls,” is the object of Pollak’s interest. Pic’s forced comedy marks the second time unlucky for Gary Yates, whose debut feature “Seven Times Lucky” was a little-seen 2004 critics’ darling. Tech credits are sharp, led by the exhausted kitsch of the production design by Deanne Rohde and the art direction by Ricardo Alms. Bulk of pic was shot around Manitoba’s Red River, with inserts of the famous falls to cement illusion.

Niagara Motel

Canada

Production

An Indian Grove, Muse Entertainment Enterprises, Buffalo Gal Pictures production. (International sales: Park Entertainment, London.) Produced by Michael Prupas, Bernard Zukerman, Phyllis Laing, Terrence Potter. Directed by Gary Yates. Screenplay, Dani Romain, George F. Walker, from Walker's"Suburban Motel," a collection of six plays.

Crew

Camera (color), Ian Wilson; editor, Simon Cozens; music, Guy Fletcher; production designer, Deanne Rohde. Reviewed at New Montreal Film Festival (Planet Terre), Sept. 24, 2005. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Kevin Pollak, Anna Friel, Craig Ferguson, Caroline Dhavernas, Wendy Crewson, Peter Keleghan, Kristen Holden-Reid, Tom Barnett.

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