One of the more successful Canadian comedy TV shows to come around in some time, The Trailer Park Boys has become a bit of a sensation in its homeland and has developed a fairly strong cult following south of the border as well. With the show having proven quite successful, it wasn't surprising to hear that a feature film was in the works, and Screen Media Films has seen fit to give that film a stateside release on DVD.
The movie (and the series it was based on) follows the misadventures of three friends who all live in the same Nova Scotia trailer park - a bumbling pompadour wearing small time pot farmer named Ricky (Robb Wells), his buff but rather dim pal Julian (John Paul Tremblay), and the strange bespectacled and kitten obsessed Bubbles (Mike Smith). The park is watched over in Gestapo like fashion by an alcoholic former cop named Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth) and his perpetually shirtless, hamburger-eating right hand man, Randy (Patrick Roach).
When the film begins, Ricky and Julian have just been let out of the bighouse where they had been doing hard time and where Ricky became the star goalie of the inmates street hockey team. They return to the park where they live and meet up with Bubbles and Ricky soon learns that his on again/off again girlfriend (and the mother of his child), Lucy (Lucy Decoutere), has gotten breast implants, shacked up with a lesbian lover, and started stripping at the local 'gentleman's club' run by a meathead named Sonny (former Headstones vocalist Hugh Dillon, star of Hardcore Logo). Ricky is none too happy about this and so he decides to prove to Lucy that he's more than just a slacker by planning 'The Big Dirty' - that being one last big time crime that'll set he and his pals up for life. Julian finds the perfect opportunity when he takes a stripper named Wanda (Nicole Hiltz) to the movies and spies a massive machine filled with 'loonies and twoonies' (one and two dollar coins for those of you who don't speak Canadian). The boys put into motion the first steps of their master plan but of course, there are more than a few little problems that creep up along the way, including interference from Sonny, Lahey, and some of Halifax's finest police officers (played by Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip and Alex Lifeson of Rush).
Gleefully crass and unapologetically non-PC, The Trailer Park Boys: The Movie is a uniquely Canadian comedy that wears its heritage proudly on its sleeve. While a couple of the jokes might be lost on US viewers unfamiliar with the cult of Tim Horton's or the importance of hockey in Canadian society, for the most part the film transcends borders with ease ensuring that this is a movie that will prove just as funny to Canadians as it will to anyone else in the world. The drug and alcohol laced humor works well because the characters are fleshed out enough and developed enough that it suits them. It never feels like it's being forced, rather, it seem a natural extension of the key players in the movie.
Shot faux-documentary style in spots and as a feature in others, it's not the most visually impressive film but it doesn't need to be nor does it aspire to be. The movie is more concerned with its pace and its comedic timing than with cinematography but it looks good enough and it does contain a few surprisingly interesting shots that are used to good effect when they're called upon. The film's soundtrack, made up of Canadian rock acts, works very well, particularly the use of The Tragically Hips bittersweet Bobcaygeon playing over the closing credits.
While the movie doesn't necessarily jive with some of the continuity established in the long running television show, it's easily forgivable. The humor is very definitely in the same vein and this self contained story ensures that you don't need to be in the least bit familiar with the series to enjoy the film, making this a good 'gateway drug' to enjoying the episodic adventures of the characters seen here. The surprisingly sweet ending isn't sappy or overdone; in fact it wraps everything up quite nicely and (not surprisingly) leaves room for another film down the road
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen picture on the DVD sent for review contains a 'for screening purposes only' bug that appears periodically throughout playback resulting in a disc that is not representative of final retail product. Because of that, no score will be given to the video quality of this release. If this is close to what the finished disc is going to look like, however, there aren't any serious problems to complain about. A bit of grain and a speck or two appears on the print and there's some minor edge enhancement but color reproduction is strong and there aren't any compression artifacts.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on this DVD comes with optional subtitles in English and in Spanish. While this isn't a particularly aggressive track, rears are used to fill in some of the more chaotic moments in the picture and the dialogue, which almost always comes from the front of the mix, sounds nice and clear. The score is mixed in well as are the sound effects and while stronger bass could have helped a couple of scenes carry more punch, this is otherwise a very fine mix.
First up is a Behind The Scenes (22:35, non-anamorphic widescreen) featurette which was originally broadcast on the Showcase channel. Some fun behind the scenes footage is mixed in with some cast and crew interviews and some pertinent clips from the feature to give us a look at what went into the production. It's a little promotional in nature but there's enough substance here to make it worth a look, and much of the humor that makes the feature and the series it was based on work so well is present here in the interviews.
A collection of eighteen deleted scenes (22:22) are also included in anamorphic widescreen, available by way of a play all option or individually. Most of this material was probably chopped out to keep the running time down but there are some funny bits here, opening clips with Bubbles talking to the camera and the concluding clip with Jroc in particular. Seven alternate takes (9:03) of scenes seen in the film are also here, again individually or through a play all button. Look for more with Bubbles and his kittens and a funny bit with Jim Lahey doing his best to lay off of the booze.
Last but not least are seven Lost Interviews (4:00). These are simply unused bits where the characters from the feature talk to the camera. Some more funny bits are in here and they're in keeping with the spirit of the material used in the feature, making the worth a look. The trailer for the feature isn't listed on the menu at all but it does play before the feature starts for some reason. Animated menus and chapter selection submenus round out the extra features on this DVD. A commentary or some more in-depth interviews would have been very welcome, or a featurette on the history of the television show, but what has been included here is at least amusing and rather fitting. The video for 'The Big Dirty Band' (featuring members of Rush, The Tea Party, and a few other bigger Canadian acts) that was included on the Canadian DVD release of the film is, unfortunately, nowhere to be seen on this US market DVD.
Assuming the finished disc looks halfway decent, this is a pretty solid release. The film holds up well to repeat viewings and it's genuinely hilarious, if more than a little crass. The extras could have been more plentiful but here it really is the film that counts and Trailer Park Boys: The Movie comes highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.