You know? There’s nothing about the Canadian climate that suggests to me that socially or very literally, climatologically, Canada would produce such funny motherfuckers. Dave Coulier notwithstanding, the typically passive stereotype of your average Canadian says nothing to me about the inherent comic potential of Canada’s citizenry. Yet the proof is in the poutine. During the stand-up boom of the 80’s, I’d say 3 out of 5 successful standups were from Toronto or Montreal and quality comedy continues to pour out of The Great White North by the kilogram.
There’s a really unusual cultural divide in Canada, though. I suppose this is true of any nation, where it’s pop-culture fails to spill over into neighboring countries, if it does at all, it makes it into only areas that border the country of origin. In the 90’s, Alanis Morissette broke out in the United States with that whole “You oughta know” shit, a song rumored to be about her breakup with the aforementioned Dave Coulier. It’s terrifying to think that anyone would blow that guy in a movie theater and then wear it on their sleeve in an angry breakup song, but I digress. To us in The States, Alanis was new and edgy. To Canada, Jagged Little Pill was an evolution away from years as a teen pop star and into contemporary radio rock relevance. Down here we had no fucking clue. We all thought she was brand new and only the keenest among my generation was quick to point out that she used to be on You Can’t Do That On Television.
What I’m getting at is that there’s plenty of entertainment being produced in Canada that still manages to evade the iron jaws of the internet and slips under the rest of the world’s radar. Case in point, FUBAR:Balls to the Wall. This comedy managed to turn up on a couple of scopes but largely went unnoticed. Until now. Fubar’s director is about to break out with a couple of high-profile comedies, one a violent hockey comedy with Stifler called Goon, a movie I’m hoping lives up to my gold standard of sports movies, Slap Shot (Review). Here’s your chance to catch him while he’s young.
Terry and Deaner are a couple of burnouts living in Calgary. The film begins at a party celebrating five years of Dean living cancer-free, a plot point from the previous movie where Dean lost a testicle to The Big C. When the pair’s friend, Tron, comes down from Fort McMurray, the hub of Candian oil production, he promises that if the two make the trip up, they’ll have a job with more cash than they know what to do with. Not expecting them to actually show up, Tron is shocked when they do and is forced to bring them in on a crew that’s building an oil pipeline. Their newfound cash and Terry’s new girlfriend, Trish, puts a heavy strain on their relationship. Meanwhile, Dean scams workman’s comp.
Recently, Canada has made some waves at the expense of their lower classes with a couple of comedies. Trailer Park Boys hit the scene a while back and that show must have been an influence on the Fubar movies. Original or not, though, FUBAR: Balls to the Wall knocks it out of the fucking park! The formula is simple and very familiar: two stupid drunk guys stumble through life and somehow manage to make it out okay in spite of their overwhelming stupidity. The ongoing comedic device is a failsafe recipe that is as dependable for laughs as a guy getting kicked in the nuts. It’s not terribly sophisticated and pretty much everyone in the movie is an asshole but they’re lovable assholes, always out looking for a scam and always at least a little buzzed.
As funny as it is, however, FUBAR: Balls to the Wall suffers a slight identity crisis. Being the follow-up to what was supposed to be a sort of first-person documentary about regular dudes in Calgary, this second film features none of that and begins life as your average narrative. Though most of the movie is a series of vignette’s of Terry and Dean just sort of doing their thing, with most of the movie’s dialog improvised, the shots occasionally go in close and the characters address the camera as though this were a deliberate documentary. No one conducts interviews, however, and this awkward mockumentary approach only ever seems to rear its head when the plot feels like it’s losing its way. It’s slightly disconcerting and the only negative criticism that I can name. FUBAR: Balls to the Wall is a low-impact comedy that’s flush with laughs and characters that are likable in spite of their incredible flaws and the lurching way that it telegraphs its oncoming plot points. Sure, it’s completely predictable but the dialog is what carries the movie and with the stars, David Lawrence and Paul Spence, riffing the entire time, the dialog is what becomes unpredictable and the movie’s strongest suit. I could listen to the profound stupidity of Terry and Deaner for days on end without stopping. The humor is only intensified by the Alberta accents (often spoofed by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier in SModcasts) and some of the setups are golden, such as Dean’s acid trip sequence, which culminates in a rescue that emerges from Ronnie James Dio’s face via chainsaw and a crossbow hunting excursion wherein the trophy kill is a house cat.
Comparisons to The McKenzie Brothers are inevitable and I’m sure that this conclusion was drawn back in 2002 when the first FUBAR movie came out. Circumstances are similar and while the movie doesn’t go out into farcical Strange Brew territory, Bob and Doug bear a lot in common with Terry and Deaner, whose lives seem to hinge on the availability of beer. It’s a buddy movie of epic proportions, a rock-bottom stupid comedy with proven laughs and the chronicle of the unbreakable bond of friendship even after your best friend impregnates your girlfriend. I’m also not sure if I’ve ever seen a movie that makes such frequent use of the word fuck. FUBAR: Balls to the Wall has the potential to rule in cult comedy circles if it could just reach a wider audience. Just give’r.