TRAILER PARK BOYS

R
Reviews

The big heist is what obsesses the denizens of Sunnyvale trailer park, but, rather than large cash amounts, piles of loose change—supposedly less prosecutable—are the objects of desire for the funny losers in Trailer Park Boys. Ricky (Robb Wells) needs the coins to get back in the good graces of his stripper wife Lucy (Lucy Decoutere), who has banished him to live in his memorably trashed Chrysler, where he uses ReadiWhip for shaving cream. He enlists his buds, Julian (John Paul Tremblay), never seen without a drink in his hand, and Bubbles (Mike Smith), four-eyed and mouth-breathing, who lives with an army of cats in a ramshackle shack, to help him pull off the taking of a movie theatre concession stand.

This raunchy, scruffy effort from Canada, based on a popular TV series, has received largely dismissive reviews, but, as far as caper films go, in its unpretentiousness and puppyish eagerness to please, I found it way preferable to the overproduced, unengaging and soulless Ocean’s Thirteen. It reminded me of another totally dissed trailer-park comedy, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (1993), which had a similar low-rent appeal and engaging cast. There’s a grittily satisfying authenticity to these films’ anti-American Dream obsession with pot, true comradeship, lap dancers, fake tits and not “going forward” or being “proactive,” which all of Hollywood’s glossy technique and big-star appearances cannot begin to approximate. Writer-director Mike Clattenburg has as much affection for his characters as Preston Sturges once lavished over his own small-town wannabes, and that genial tone, as well as his savvy sense of pacing, does much to put this over. And, seriously, haven’t you ever wanted to personally destroy a parking meter, which happens here?

The entire cast is wonderfully committed and seems to be having a helluva time. Wells has an overripe Elvis handsomeness (and gut to match), as well as a loopily engaging single-mindedness in his determination to a) get back into jail so he can win an important, improvised field hockey tournament and b) return to a former, happy life of domestic bliss when he grew and sold grass and everything was hunky-dory at home. Tremblay has a Martini-dry, deadpan comic persona, but Smith is admittedly rather trying doing the kind of semi-autistic shtick that Judah Friedlander did more effectively in American Splendor. Decoutere is winning as Ricky’s ecdysiastically enthusiastic wife, and so is Lydia Lawson-Baird as his daughter Trinity, who, although given to stealing trailer-park barbecue grills, nevertheless sits obediently in Dad’s car during his scams, even though it’s missing a door on her side.