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Brain Candy revels in addictive satire

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Ottawa Sun
By Paul Cantin

After watching one Saturday Night Live cast member after another stumble and falter on the way to Hollywood, it would be easy to understand if fans of Kids In The Hall held their noses while queuing up for Brain Candy.

Lorne Michaels, the man who brought you Coneheads, Stuart Saves His Family and It's Pat, is also at the production helm of this big-screen adaptation of the Kids' small-screen brand of anarchy. The signs are ominous, the outlook bleak.

Thankfully, Brain Candy works beautifully and hilariously, a welcome mix of wisdom, bull's-eye satire and silliness.

Who would have thought a film about depression could be funny?

Who would have believed the troupe would manage to shoehorn a rogue's gallery of characters from their TV show into the film, and still come through with something resembling a plot.

As Brain Candy unravels, the group members -- Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson -- slip into and out of characters faster than Kate Moss switching clothes backstage at a fashion show.

Characters clearly recognizable from the TV series (and a few new ones, too) combine with Kelly Makin's elegant direction to quickly establish that society is infected with a virus of depression.

Their vision of Toronto is so bleak, you'd cry if you weren't laughing so hard. But a crack team of researchers, lead by Chris Cooper (McDonald) invents a new pill that locks the depressed mind onto its happiest memory -- creating instant glee. Company chief Don Rovitor [sic] (McKinney) is facing trouble with his board of directors, and rushes the promising pill into production -- despite concerns about side-effects.

Cooper's rise to fame, the marketing of the drug and the predictable scandal gives the Kids plenty of room to riff on the media, corporate culture, marketing strategy and our contemporary obsession with happiness and depression.

In the voice of a foul-mouthed Eastern European cab driver, Ottawa's Mark McKinney gets to articulate the film's central theme: The only way to be happy is to realize you can't be happy all the time.

Clearly, Kids In The Hall's humor isn't for everyone. If you're easily offended by naughty words, alternative lifestyles or images of men in drag, stay home. But if you like your humor irreverent and thoughtful, you'll find Brain Candy addictive.

Rating: 4

 

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