Terry and Dean, the hapless Calgary hosers who made “Fubar” a Canadian comic sensation, are up to equally manic business in “Fubar II.” With eight years between projects, and director and co-writer Michael Dowse making “It’s All Gone, Pete Tong” in the interim, the sequel nevertheless maintains and often improves on the original’s scruffy humor, quasi-doc style and blue-collar affections as the guys land jobs in Alberta’s oil sands region. Built-in fan base assures rich Canuck coin, but Yanks will ignore it like they did the first time.
Dean (Paul J. Spence) is five years free of the cancer that made him lose one testicle, and in typical form, he and Terry (Dave Lawrence) stage a blowout party to celebrate. Laughing in the face of cancer is actually one of the several pleasures of the world of “Fubar,” but what the guys also confess to assembled friends and family is that they’re being evicted. With grizzled buddy Tron (Andrew Sparacino, one of a few cast members carrying on from the original) promising them work in the oil sands, where he earns good cash, they lay waste to their rented digs in an orgasm of total mayhem.
Terry and Dean venture into the extreme industrial world of the oil sands with no clue what they’re in for, and Tron immediately looks embarrassed to be associated with these bumbling losers. As usual, though, the guys land on their feet, getting work as pipe layers on Tron’s crew and realizing that their fat paychecks allow them endless rounds of drinks at a local bar, where waitress Trish (Terra Hazelton) catches Terry’s eye.
Place a woman between Terry and Dean, and that spells trouble. The screenplay by Lawrence, Spence and Dowse manages to develop several wrinkles in what could have been a familiar set of plot complications as Trish’s role becomes more prominent in the action, particularly when the impotent Terry discovers Trish is pregnant. Here, as elsewhere, Canadians will enjoy several jokes made at their own expense that would fly past auds abroad, thus limiting the film’s international appeal.
Unlike in “Pete Tong,” whose cinematic impact and dramatic tension grew with each reel, Dowse isn’t able to quite sustain the comic inspiration and momentum into the second hour, while still finding ways to eke laughs after Dean discovers that his cancer has returned. This is a gutsy storytelling turn that momentarily slows things down, but in the end has an uproarious and unexpected payoff involving Dean’s heavy metal singing.
American movie comedy lacks its own Terry and Dean right now, so the guys’ deep blue-collar identity makes them fairly unique in the current landscape. Lawrence and Spence know these characters in their bones, and manage Terry’s and Dean’s most outrageous moves with a disarming ease and natural flair. Hazelton plays off of them with gusto, matching their energy and lust for tastelessness.
What may seem like needlessly frantic editing by Reginald Harkema actually fits the constant instability in the pair’s lives, down to a Christmas celebration that nearly turns hellish. Bobby Shore’s suitably raggedy lensing depicts the oil sands region at ground level, in contrast with Peter Mettler’s dazzling recent doc, “Petropolis,” that observes the same climes from airborne cameras.