The more they know about “Greg & Gentillon,” the more auds will be impressed by the ambition and gentle comedy of this low-budget Canadian mockumentary, in the shaky-cam tradition of “Fubar” and “The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico.” North-of-the-border release faces some struggle, though, in how to convey its unique qualities in an increasingly crowded field; narrow, inter-regional humor may limit scope to well-nurtured homevid.
Pre-pic background is that two funny guys from Aylmer, Quebec — Louis Durand and Thomas Michael — came up with Greg and Gentillon, two unfunny guys with bad accents and even worse hair (wigs, actually), who make an act out of not having an act. Meta-comedy concept tickled writer-helmer Matthiew Klinck and co-scribe Paolo Mancini, who plays their nerdy manager (all parties involved logged time on the late-’90s Comedy Network show “Y B Normal”) and takes G2 on the road, with cameras.
Consequently, the movie follows these two cross-eyed dreamers to Toronto. Montreal might be a more likely target for French-language performers? No matter: They know how to say, “How cold is it in Aylmer?” in several languages. The “Borat”-esque trick is that Klinck and company didn’t tell anyone in Toronto that the duo isn’t for real, so the reactions of comedy-club patrons, fellow standuppers and showbiz managers are all spontaneous. (“Many of these jokes have been told before,” one agent tells them politely.)
It’s clever stuff, as far as it goes, but there’s a built-in problem with making your protagonists not very funny: They aren’t very funny. Pic is actually more resonant in its emotional aspects, such as Gentillon’s relationship with his flighty g.f. back home (Nadia Mansouri) and, of course, the toll this venture takes on the lad’s lifelong friendship.
At 85 minutes, pic is breezy enough, and varied enough visually, to smooth over dull spots. Music is propulsive.