You Might As Well Live (Director: Simon Ennis): When I first saw the “red band” trailer (embedded below), I have to admit I laughed out loud a few times, and so I was looking forward to seeing what promised to be a more foul-mouthed (and distinctly Canadian) version of Napoleon Dynamite. Sadly, the feature-length version was a little anemic on the laughs.
Josh Peace completely inhabits the role of Robert Mutt, a depressed loser who fails at everything he tries, even suicide. But after two years in the local mental asylum, he’s made friends and become successful at stuff like air hockey and hotdog-eating contests, so he’s released as “cured.” But the community still hates him, and his neighbour is even trying to pin a child porn charge on him. All Robert wants to do is “be a real somebody,” and inspired by mythical baseball hero Clinton Manitoba (an unrecognizable Michael Madsen), he sets out to acquire the three things he needs: a girl, a bit of cash, and a championship ring. The rest of the plot involves all sorts of contrived craziness, including a roller-skating tranny, a fetish-loving TV weatherman, chemical castration, a bar mitzvah, and not one but two catatonic characters. Like Napoleon Dynamite, the quirkiness is amped up just a little too much for my liking, though Robert maintains his sunny and innocent disposition, which helps a bit.
The best part of the film for me was hearing so many putdowns that I haven’t heard since grade school: douchebag, pervo, dildo, jag-off. There is something so juvenile in those that it brought a huge smile to my face everytime someone insulted Robert that way. It was also great to see Hamilton, Ontario being used as a location. That city’s gritty reputation made it a great place for Robert to pursue his modest dreams among some pretty far-out characters. The film is actually more reminiscent of the Trailer Park Boys, but without the benefit of a television season to “develop” the characters and situations more fully.
But even at a brisk 82 minutes, the film felt long to me. The rags to riches storyline is tired, which might have been forgivable if there were a few more laughs. Unfortunately quirky characters in crazy situations doesn’t always mean comedy gold. Someone still needs to write some jokes.
You Might As Well Live opens on Friday August 28th here in Toronto at the AMC Yonge-Dundas and at Canada Square. There is also a premiere screening at 7pm that night at the Bloor Cinema.