A Whole Lotta Kids in the Hall

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Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy. (Paramount; 89 minutes; R).

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Syrcuse ???
By Bill DeLapp

This Canadian comic troupe, which scored a cultish success when their TV sketchcom ran on the HBO, CBS and Comedy Central networks, make a loopy though uncertain bid for big-screen stardom with this anarchic head movie. Basically a raunchy satire on big business, the brain candy of the title is an antidepressant pill that locks into a participant's most favorite memory. The fact that the drug's inventor (Kevin McDonald) hasn't had time for thorough research doesn't stop the pharmaceutical kingpin (Mark McKinney) and his unctuous yes-man executive (Newsradio's David Foley) from marketing it, with such downbeat pill-poppers as a nihilistic rocker (Bruce McCulloch) and a repressed homosexual (Scott Thompson) getting happy.

Most of the Kids save Foley had a hand in the script (Norm Hiscock also contributed), and they all perform at least triple- duty with their multiple roles, many of them in drag: McCulloch dons a dress as a lady scientist pining for McDonald, Thompson plays a blonde German supermodel, and so on. And the hit-and-miss ratio of funny gags to bad-taste bits is fairly even: There's a dead-on sequence about one old lady's cherished holiday when her son's family comes home for a 30-second Christmas dinner ("Hey, I hear dad's dead. Sorry."), but also a few queasy scenes devoted to a wheelchair-bound video star named Cancer Boy.

But unlike the other lame cookie-cutter comedies from producer Lorne Michaels (Tommy Boy, Black Sheep), at least Brain Candy has something resembling an edgy attitude, with several outrageous belly-laughs that don't seem written by a committee.

While the gay subtext, toilet humor and frequently obscene material will keep Brain Candy alive with the cult cognoscenti, there's enough cleverly amusing segments to convince others that maybe these Kids are alright.

--Bill DeLapp


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