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Brain Candy A Sweet Treat For Old And New Kids Fans

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Toronto Star
By Rob Salem

Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy Starring Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson, written by Norm Hiscock, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark Mc- Kinney & Scott Thompson, directed by Kelly Makin. At Famous Players theatres. **** (four stars)

As long as Paramount insists on throwing money at Lorne Michaels, it's nice to see him spend it on something worthwhile. This time, rather than trot out Chris Farley again to try to milk yet another spinn-off from his *Saturday Night Live* franchise, Toronto-born producer Michaels has wisely chosen to reinvest in his most worthy pet project, the homegrown comedy team Kids In The Hall, whom he first brought to American television in 1989, and now introduces in their major motion-picture debut.

And it is, if not quite major, a surprisingly mainstream transitional vehicle, accessible not only to the troupe's long-time fans, but also to those who never saw them on television, or who did and just didn't get it.

If anything, it may be a bit too accessible - given the boys' tendency to push the taste envelope, and their constant battles with CBC censors, one would have expected them to really cut loose on the big screen.

Not only is *Brain Candy* remarkably polite (by Kids' standards, anyway), it is also quite unexpectedly linear (also relative to the *Kids* TV sketch show) - basically the story of a socially-challenged scientist (Kevin McDonald) who invents a chemical cure for depression, only to be exploited by a ruthlessly single-minded pharmaceutical magnate (Mark McKinney doing a dead-on Michaels impersonation) and his manipulative toady (Dave Foley).

These are but three of some 57 characters the Kids variously portray - Scott Thompson is subtly hilarious as two of the drug's most memorable test subjects - a sad old lady and a ridiculously repressed suburbanite - with Bruce McCulloch standing out as an amoral ad man and an attitude-impaired rock star who suddenly turns to sappy ballads.

But the Kids always were greater than the sum of their parts - their fractured group dynamic has somehow always generated consistently cohesive comedy.

On many levels, the movie reveals more about the Kids themselves than the 50-odd (often very odd) hours of videotaped TV comedy that preceded it.

The ever-versatile McKinney remains the most singularly impressive. Foley's minimal contribution seems barely more than an extended cameo (not insignificantly, he is the only Kid not credited on the script). Thompson's characters have always had the most heart.

And, for McDonald and McCulloch, the movie offers further proof that, out in the real world, they may never again find as accomodating a showcase for their diversely quirky talents.

Perhaps they won't have to. Even as the TV Kids move on to other things (Foley on *Newsradio*, McKinney on *SNL*, Thompson on *Larry Sanders*), the movie Kids may yet live on.

 

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