mockumentaries

MOVIE REVIEW: Incident at Loch Ness (2004)

“I’ve always been interested in the difference between fact and truth, and I would call it the ecstatic truth.” — Werner Herzog

 

INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS (2004 20th Century Fox)

Directed by Zak Penn, written and produced by Zak Penn and Werner Herzog

Joe has a knack for recommending movies that I end up liking.  We have a very similar sense of humour, we both find amusement in the absurd.  Joe got me to buy Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man as well as Incident at Loch Ness, both from his bargain bin at the price of $5.99 each.  While Incident at Loch Ness has all the appearances of a Herzog film, it’s actually a documentary within a documentary within a mockumentary directed by Zak Penn (The Grand).   Incident At Loch Ness is a wry, smart rib-tickler that many just won’t get.  But I do, and I have watched it a couple dozen times over the years.

Here’s the setup: A camera crew is filming a documentary on noted filmmaker Werner Herzog called Herzog in Wonderland. At the same time, Herzog is embarking on own documentary film called Enigma of Loch Ness.   He will be shooting on location on the loch itself, and he plans to investigate the mythos surrounding it. Herzog is more interested in why people want to believe in monsters, rather than the monster itself. His producer, Zak Penn (Penn, as himself) has different ideas, and will resort to unethical trickery in order to get the blockbuster film he envisions.  The pair travel to Scotland with a film crew, but Herzog is unaware of Penn’s duplicity.

Penn hires a sexy sonar operator (Kitana Baker, as herself) with no sonar experience, and a strange cryptozologist (Michael Karnow, as himself) for comedic relief. Penn makes absurd demands of the crew, such as having the engines on the boat replaced by significantly weaker ones in order to get better sound coverage.  Through the chaos, Herzog just wants to make his movie, but the project is doomed to fail.

Incident At Loch Ness doesn’t try to be profound. Herzog (the character) never finds out just why people want to believe in a modern dinosaur. Herzog (the actor) plays it straight while Penn and Karnow play it for laughs.  The style is largely improvised, and I would rate Incident at Loch Ness equal to some of the better Christopher Guest films.

I also loved the DVD bonus features, which shed a little light (but not too much) on the making of the film. There is a comedic audio commentary track with Zak Penn that takes the gag even further as well, before cutting out abruptly mid-movie. Incident at Loch Ness is a low budget classic that I hope will appeal to those who are sick and tired and the same old comedies. It will especially appeal to fans of Herzog.  As the straight man, he’s absolutely perfect.

5/5  stars

Werner Herzog … Himself/Writer/Producer
Kitana Baker … Herself
Gabriel Beristain … Himself
Russell Williams II … Himself
David A. Davidson … Himself
Michael Karnow … Himself
Robert O’Meara … Himself
Zak Penn … Himself/Writer/Producer/Director
Steven Gardner … Himself

NSS

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REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – The Movie (2006)

Are you a Tragically Hip fan?  Then read on.

TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)

Directed by Mike Clattenburg

The story goes that Ivan Reitman, who produced Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (aka “The Big Dirty”), wanted to do a movie that would re-introduce the characters and target them to a new audience.  He preferred the flavour of the earlier seasons and steered the movie in that direction.  This is sort of a good and bad thing.

The movie is out of continuity with the TV series, unfortunately.  There are characters and events in the movie that would never be referenced in the series.  Lahey loses the roof of his car in both the movie and the TV series, but in different ways.  You’ll notice Trinity is played by a different actress (Lydia Lawson-Baird), and her character is slightly different in tone as well.

Remember those movie trailers where the Boys are auditioning actors to play themselves? I think it’s best to think of this movie in that context: It’s the Boys playing themselves, in a movie based on themselves.  Even though we’re talking about fictional characters in a mockumentary movie.

The plot:  Ricky and Julian go to jail (again) and are about to be released (again). No fair! cries Ricky, who wants to play in the jail hockey tournament against the prison guards, captained by Donny.  The rivalry between Ricky (a goalie) and Donny (Gerry Dee) result in a few classic exchanges:

Ricky – “Suck it, Donny.”

Donny – “You suck it.  More.”

Ricky – “What kind of comeback was that?  I said ‘suck it’ and you just added ‘more’ to it.”

Donny – “Because it’s more, you suck it more.”

TPB_0002Out of jail, Rick goes home to Sunnyvale trailer park, only to find that things have changed. Lucy’s got a new job.  “An awesome new job,” according to Sarah.  “She workin’ at Horton’s again?” asks Ricky.  Nope, it’s not a coffee shop, it’s a “gentlemen’s club”.  This “gentlemen’s club” is owned by Sonny (Hugh Dillon, of the Headstones), and he’s banging Lucy.

Julian, also out of jail, has an idea to get rich “without getting caught”: Do small crimes.  Steal change!  Ricky, on the other hand, has met a lot of really “smart” guys in jail, and they all say “the big dirty” is the way to go: one big crime, and you’re retired. The two ideas are combined and a plan is set in motion. Will Ricky still be able to play in the hockey tournament?

In addition to new characters like Sonny and Donny, look for cameos by Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Gordon Downie (The Tragically Hip). The soundtrack kicks ass, featuring Helix, April Wine, and lots of The Tragically Hip.  I always think of this movie now when I hear the songs “Bobcaygeon” and “38 Years Old”.  Hell, Julian even goes to see a movie called “The Dark Canuck” in the film.

I really enjoyed Trailer Park Boys: The Movie even if it’s not quite pure Trailer Park Boys. It sort of attempts to recapture what worked in the early seasons (you can tell by casting Trinity as a younger girl) and by and large, it works. Sonny works as a replacement antagonist, a role that Cyrus often filled on the show.  All your favourite regulars such as Philadelphia Collins, Jacob Collins, and Officer George Green are here. Lahey is suitably drunk, and Randy as shirtless as ever.

This actually works pretty well as a way for newcomers to get into the show. It distills what worked best in the earlier years, into a two-hour package that stays funny and doesn’t wear out its welcome. Bonus features include the music video for “I Fought The Law” (featuring Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson!), and lots of alternate takes.

5/5 stars. Two smokes, let’s go.

“I could easily fuck over 10 pieces of chicken”

MOVIE REVIEW: FUBAR II (2010)

“Knowledge of non-knowledge is power. “  – Dean Murdoch

FUBAR II

FUBAR II (2010 Alliance, directed by Michael Dowse)

Most sequels aren’t worth owning.  Fubar II is.  Plus, it comes with a bonus disc: Fubar, the original complete film. This was a total surprise to me. I had no idea it was going to be in there. I’m a little bummed that I bought the original film on blu shortly before this.  I gifted it to my buddy Cliff at work who also adores the exploits of Terry and Deaner.

Synopsis:  5 years after surgery, Deaner is celebrating these years of good health. Even though an eviction is looming, he and Terry have no real worries.  During a drunken house-trashing party, Tron tells them they have jobs waiting in Fort McMurray. Terry and Dean pack up their meager belongings and head to work in the oilsands.

As with the first Fubar, tragedy must eventually strike. Terry and Dean come to blows over a girl, Trish, who Terry has moved in with. Dean gets some bad news, and Terry gets even more unexpected news from Trish. For a while, Fubar II becomes much darker than the first film.

Unbelievably, a stroke of scripting genius turns Dean’s tragedy into triumph. This ending was as satisfactory as it gets. I ended Fubar II with a huge smile on my face. This sequel does something very unusual: it is funnier than the original, it has more emotion than the original, yet it doesn’t copy it. I have to say this is one of the best sequels I’ve seen.

The footage of the oilsands is really cool.  It looks like a cross between Vegas and the Mustafar system – a whole other planet. One thing about this movie, you can tell it had a budget this time, compared to the original. There are some really nice looking shots, and the movie itself looks great. The graininess has been replaced by slick production. The documentary style has been mostly dropped in favour of more traditional storytelling, although a few interview segments are scattered within.

For music geeks, Justin Hawkins of The Darkness has a vocal cameo near the end.  You’ll know it when you hear it!  The movie also features excellent tunage by Ronnie James Dio & Black Sabbath, The Gun, and Dean’s own classic “Whale Hunter”.

I mentioned the bonus disc with the entire original film, bonus features intact.   Other special bonuses in this set include a ton of deleted scenes. While some were overly long and you can seen why they were edited or pared down, others add to the story and comedy. There were several regarding Dean’s illness that might have worked well in the movie. One, “Mixing Meats,” was a shorty that just had me howling. Also, like the original film, this one comes with a commentary from Michael Dowse and others. Better though will be the in-character commentary by Terry and Dean. This was a real treat on the original film, and I’m sure this one will be too. I’ll have to check that out on next viewing.

Pick this up. Just give’r.

5/5 stars