This weekend is the opening of the new Canadian film, GravyTrain , and it really is a very good, laugh-out-loud comedy. And since, unfortunately, most home-grown movies don’t get much opportunity to prove themselves at the box office, I recommend you see it this week on the big screen.
GravyTrain is an unquestionably silly movie, and the brainchild of April Mullen (who directs and produces) and Tim Doiron (writer and producer). These two Ryerson graduates, who previously brought the world Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser , also play the two main characters, Chuck Gravytrain and Uma Booma. Yes, the names are silly. I told ya.
Welcome to the world of Gypsy Creek, population 247. It’s a small, quiet town with a big city problem: murder. Chuck is a cop dedicated to Truth and Justice, out to avenge his father’s death at the hands of the notorious Jimmy Fish Eyes. Chuck gets assigned new partner Uma, a police woman with a few secrets in her past. Though Chuck swears he works better alone, Jimmy Fish Eyes strikes again, and Chuck and Uma are forced to work together to solve the latest murder. Along the way, we meet many of the town’s eccentric inhabitants; the Mayor (Colin Mochrie), the Madame (Jennifer Dale), the bartender (Tim Meadows), the town drunk (Alan Frew), the police chief (A C Peterson), and the pencil-pushing cop (Kyle Schmid).
GravyTrain is always silly and often hilarious, with verbal and visual puns too numerous to count. Seemingly set somewhere in the cheeze-filled 70s, it features big collars, huge cars, big hair, and amazing pant-suits. Visually, it’s quite something to behold – taking its cues from 70s TV shows like Charlie’s Angels , Dukes of Hazzard , and Starsky and Hutch . Unlike the film remakes of those series, however, GravyTrain doesn’t feel like its trying to be an updated version of the 1970s. It’s not cashing in on the cool. It’s embracing the whole decade, in all its ugly and awesome ridiculousness.
Everyone in the film puts in a solid performance, but besides the two leads, it was really the sleazy Avant-Garde filmmaker, Hansel Suppledick (played by Ryan Tilley), who kind of stole the show. I mean, he apparently made a snuff film by ‘happy accident’. You may find yourself, as I did, walking out of the theatre trying to repress the urge to speak with an Elvis accent and say, “Wango, baby”.
Other reasons to see it: flame-retardant one-piece pantsuits, the Gypsy Creek news, and the soundtrack (which includes original songs written for the film). Well worth the price of admission.
GravyTrain is playing daily until Thursday April 29th, and the Sunday screenings (April 25th) will feature a Q & A session with the filmmakers for the 7 and 10pm screenings. So for a very enjoyable two hours of laughter (and a few groans), get down to the AMC Yonge & Dundas this week and check it out.