×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Suburbanators

From out of the wilds of western Calgary come "The Suburbanators," a loose cluster of early-20s losers who have trouble crossing town, let alone getting their lives under way. Pic's droll tone is exactly right for these anxious procrastinators, whose feeble stabs at self-determination become increasingly hilarious. Smart marketing and placement could connect this to an appreciative young audience.

From out of the wilds of western Calgary come “The Suburbanators,” a loose cluster of early-20s losers who have trouble crossing town, let alone getting their lives under way. Pic’s droll tone is exactly right for these anxious procrastinators, whose feeble stabs at self-determination become increasingly hilarious. Smart marketing and placement could connect this to an appreciative young audience.

Story by debuting helmer Gary Burns follows three sets of young men as they take a coincidental trip through strip-malls and cookie-cutter wastelands to end up in yet another dismal neighborhood. Brooding Bob and self-doubting Al (Stephen Spender and Joel McNichol) are at least in a car, and so have time for haircuts that neither of them needs. Gangly Eric and cynical, chin-whiskered Carl (Jacob Banigan and Stewart Burdett) are hoofing it to the same place, to buy some dope from a none-too-discreet dealer. Meanwhile, the house trio (Jihad Traya, Ahmad Taha, Rogy Masri) at a local Middle Eastern restaurant get stuck when their instruments are locked in an absent g.f.’s downtown apartment and then bus to the ‘burbs to seek help from a relative.

Along the way, Carl pokes a passing pedestrian with his cigarette and insults a prize-winning novelist (calling him “a modest-aggressive”); Eric escapes a massive drug bust through an open bathroom window and has a rock fight with the musicians (whose Arabic language is never translated); Carl and Bob steal an unguarded stash; someone gets hit by a car; and not one of these guys displays the slightest knowledge of how to talk to a woman.

What really makes “The Suburbanators” click is that Burns planes off all these potentially heart-pounding incidents into a narrative as flat as the talk radio that drones incessantly in the background. This is an environment so polluted with anonymous car lots and videogame parlors that the characters — none of whom is stupid — barely recognize drama when it happens. Smart auds will, though, thanks to sharp editing and tight control of actors.

Bleached colors, oblique camera angles and bargain-basement lighting are perfect for this numbingly absurd milieu. Drug talk and extra-subtle humor may keep this out of mall-plexes, but that’s just where it belongs: Pic needs a 35mm blowuppronto, since there’s a continent full of Beavises and Butt-heads who’ve never seen themselves so accurately captured.

The Suburbanators

(CANADIAN)

Production: A Burns Film/Red Devil Films (Calgary) production. Produced by Gary Burns, John Hazlett. Directed, written by Gary Burns.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm), Patrick Mclaughlin; editor, Mark Lemmon; art direction, Kevin Jones; costume design, Cherise Jacque; sound, Frank Laratta; assistant director, Grant Sauve. Reviewed on videocassette , Vancouver, Sept. 6, 1995. (In Toronto, Vancouver film festivals.) Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Joel McNichol, Stephen Spender, Stewart Burdett, Jacob Banigan, Jihad Traya, Ahmad Taha, Rogy Masri, Peter Strand Rumple, Carrie Shiftler, Kurt McKinstry, Lyle St. Goddard, Leslie Wilson, Kevin Jones.

More Film

  • Critics Week

    Cannes Critics’ Week Unveils Its Lineup

    Lorcan Finnegan’s science-fiction thriller “Vivarium” with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, Jérémy Clapin’s fantasy-filled animated feature “I Lost My Body,” and Hlynur Pálmason’s Icelandic drama “A White, White Day” are among the 11 films set to compete at Critics’ Week, the section dedicated to first and second films that runs parallel with the Cannes Film [...]

  • China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails

    China Box Office: 'Wonder Park' Fails to Impress While 'P Storm' Rages On

    Even on one of the quietest weekends of the year, new U.S. animated release “Wonder Park” failed to inspire Chinese audiences as much as Hong Kong and Indian movies already in their third weekend in theaters. Starring the voice talents of Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, and Ken Jeong, among many others, the film [...]

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content