Idiocy in myriad forms being something of a homegrown specialty, Hollywood needn’t normally import stupidity. But Canuck-born Ivan Reitman so loved a runaway hit Canadian cable series about a trio of lovable if not-too-bright criminals, he produced a movie version, “Trailer Park Boys: The Movie,” which promptly shot to No. 1 up north. Directed and co-written by series’ creator Mike Clattenburg, “Boys” functions swimmingly as both a bigscreen inflation of smallscreen icons and a fairly hilarious stand-alone. Opening Jan.25 in Gotham and Los Angeles, the laffer will need strong critical and word-of-mouth promotion to hawk its surprisingly strong audience appeal.
The series, in its seventh Canadian season, aired only briefly Stateside as part of BBC America, where its cuss-laden soundtrack produced a constant series of bleeps.
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Instead of the cynicism and defiant aggressiveness of much American lowball humor, “Boys” trades on its characters’ unshakable underdog image with a sweetness all the more genuine for being crassly expressed.
Of the three two-bit grifter heroes, Ricky (co-scripter Robb Wells) is the wordsmith: his brilliance at talking his way out of jams is unfortunately not matched by his planning ability nor by his partners’ skills at thinking on their feet.
Cohort Julian (John Paul Tremblay), tall, dark and taciturn, with an iced rum and coke permanently clutched in his hand, tilts toward the conservative, lacking Ricky’s brainstorming impulsiveness. Arch-geek Bubbles (Mike Smith), his eyes huge and goofy behind coke-bottle glasses, robs for friendship and cat food, sharing his ramshackle tool shed with an adorable horde of kitties he trains for his annual feline extravaganza.
Pic’s plot focuses mainly on Ricky’s attempts to get back together with Lucy (Lucy Decoutere), his longtime girlfriend — and mother of his larcenous little girl Trinity (Lydia Lawson-Baird), who has kicked him out of the family trailer for having given up his stable pot-growing job.
Having failed at parking meter theft, and determined to pull off the “Big Dirty” that will allow them to retire in proletarian ease, Ricky and the boys decide to rob a cinema of a huge display of change, since metal money is untraceable.
“Boys” also features residents of the series’ Sunnyvale Trailer Park, notably its villainous drunken ex-cop manager (John Dunsworth) and his younger, dimmer significant other (Patrick Roach) whose huge, bare pot belly constantly rounds out corners of the frame. But the pic’s main source of comedy is Ricky’s inexhaustible verbal virtuosity and the spectacularly inventive ways the gang’s penny-ante heists self-destruct.
Tech credits are well calibrated to the film’s lowly roots, helmer Clattenburg and lenser Miroslaw Baszak retaining much of the series’ low-budget feel through the transition from hand-held video to tripod-steady film. Characters speak directly to the camera in conversational asides that suit the pic’s casualness.