#REVIEW: “CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Fans of Dog River, Saskatchewan and its quirky Inhabitants rejoice – CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE is coming to a Movie Theatre near you. I must admit, in full disclosure, that I was not a regular Viewer of the highly-successful and multi-award-winning TV Series in its six-season run on CTV, but I had watched enough shows to know the Characters and each of their idiosyncratic personalities.
I approached viewing the long awaited cinematic version with skepticism as I was unsure how the gentle, low-key humour that worked so well on Television would translate on to the Big Screen. After the silly opening sequence, which incorporates a Star Wars reference, Cyborgs and Werewolves, we see it was all a dream that Hank (played with charm and effervescence by Fred Ewaniuck) has while waiting for the Newspaper Lady at the Airport. As he and the Reporter approach the Town, we are subjected to scenes that could have been outtakes from The Walking Dead; police car on fire, pedestrians being pummeled on the sidewalk and our Hero, Brent (Brent Butt, Series Mastermind), looking crazed and dangerous.I was immediately intrigued and transfixed.
Due to a bad financial decision made by the Mayor using all the Town’s cash, (He invested in real estate. In Detroit!), Dog River is on the verge of bankruptcy. The power is sporadic, the running water is less than clean and the Residents are thinking of selling their homes and moving away, especially after the local Bar has closed its door (“We can live without power and water. But booze? Now it’s become real.” says one of the Town’s locals) Lacey (winningly played by Gabrielle Miller), the always optimistic Proprietor of the Town’s Restaurant, is hoping that Dog River can win a contest held by a national newspaper of being Canada’s Quaintest Community and the $75,000.00 prize. While she’s on her mission to get the Townsfolk to beautify the surroundings, the other series’ regulars have issues of their own. Having bought the B ar, Brent now has the added pressure of running it, the Gas Station and dealing with his Parents (Eric Peterson and Janet Wright). Davis (Lorne Cardinal) is forced to retire from the Police Force and is pursuing a new career as a Private Detective. Karen (Tara Spencer-Nairn) is now coping with being the sole Law Enforcement Officer while pregnant. Wanda (Nancy Robertson) hatches many get-rich-quick schemes, some of which are illegal.
As in all art forms, humour is subjective. Whereas I prefer my Comedy to be either edgy and cerebral or just downright low-brow, I found CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE sweet and endearing. What it may lack in belly laughs, it succeeds wonderfully in putting a smile on my face that rarely left. Director David Storey’s history of working on the Series for many years is a huge advantage too; he brings out the best in all the performances. Both Ewaniuck and Miller have a screen presence that impresses. Storey also has a keen, cinematic eye, making the surrounding countryside visually stunning. Brent Butt, along with two other Screenwriters, has a knack of writing insults that tickle you with a feather duster rather than wallop you over the head. His humour is gentle and not mean spirited. I found it refreshing. I also liked how the Movie is peppered throughout with cameos from prominent Canadian celebrities, though Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not to be found this time around.
It is no easy feat adapting to the Big Screen an something beloved by so many and also in recent memory. You have to please long time devotees as well as entice those who never watched the shows to spend hard earned cash to see it at the Movies, but CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE works. Is it ground breaking? No, but Fans of the Series will enjoy it immensely and it made me want to re-visit the Show (in perpetual reruns on the Comedy Network) on a more frequent basis.
CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE opens five days only in theatres December 3-7, 2014. Check here for showtimes and cities.