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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WEIRDSVILLE -- Movie Review by Porfle

(Originally posted at in 2008.)

One of the most peculiar stoner comedies I've ever seen, WEIRDSVILLE (2007) toys with the notion of making some of its lead characters slightly three-dimensional and a little sad, skipping around the edges of black comedy and occasionally stepping right in it. But most of the time it's just plain nutty.

Wes Bentley (AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE TOMB) and Scott Speedman (THE STRANGERS, UNDERWORLD) play perpetually wasted Canadian ne'er-do-wells Royce and Dex, who owe a scary loan shark named Omar a lot of money. Omar gives them some drugs to sell to make up their debt, but Royce does most of them himself with the help of their friend, a hooker named Matty (the winsome Taryn Manning). Fortunately, Matty knows the combination to a safe loaded with cash in the mansion of millionaire Jason Taylor (Matt Frewer), who's in the hospital after a falling icicle lodged itself in his skull.

But before Royce and Dex can pull off their big heist, Matty OD's on the drugs and appears to have expired. So the guys take her to a drive-in theater where they used to work for a creepy guy named Abel (Greg Bryk) and plan to bury her in the basement below the concession stand. Until, that is, Abel shows up with some fellow Satan worshippers to perform a human sacrifice.

Royce and Dex witness the grisly act, so Abel and the others chase them with murder in their eyes for the rest of the movie. Oh yeah, and Matty isn't really dead--she springs back to life after the blood ritual and Abel thinks Satan's responsible for her resurrection, so he's intent on capturing her and using her enchanted blood to heal icicle-head, who unintentionally got him into Satanism in the first place by giving him a book on the subject.

If you haven't already guessed, this movie tends to go off in all sorts of unexpected directions. One of the comedy highlights is when Royce and Dex actually attempt to enter Jason Taylor's mansion and make off with the safe. It's kind of like watching Laurel and Hardy trying to do the same thing if they were a lot dumber and totally wasted.

Later the boys break into a mall to get away from Abel and are attacked by a midget security guard named Martin (HOWARD THE DUCK's Jordan Prentice). When Martin is later worked over by Abel and his vicious girlfriend Treena (Maggie Castle), he assembles his fellow members of a medieval battle reenactment group in full chain-mail regalia and the heavily-armed midget commandos bring their wrath down upon the hapless Satanists.

With all of this wacky stuff going on, it's nice that Royce and Dex are such interesting characters. Frighteningly enough, Royce is the idea man--among other brilliant concepts, he's come up with a sprayable mayonaisse called Sprayonaisse and a combination of tea and nicotine called Cigatea. Wes Bentley plays the character more or less straight, which makes him funnier, and reminded me at times of a young Eric Roberts, which is a good thing. Everything that happens around Royce takes awhile to sink in--he's about a minute behind reality, with no chance of ever catching up, and he's probably the funniest thing about WEIRDSVILLE.

Scott Speedman's Dex, the quiet, introspective half of the team, also has a streak of realism that cuts through the funny. Dex wants to kick drugs and be more of a normal human being instead of a comedy character, which is hard to do around the terminally flaky Royce. There's a scene with Dex sitting in bed beside Matty as she recovers from her brush with death, and their conversation about life, death, and spirituality would fit comfortably in a straight-faced character study instead of this basically silly farce. The fact that these serious elements blend right into the rest of the movie makes the whole thing a more substantial and ultimately more satisfying experience.

That's not to say Willem Wennekers' screenplay has any pesky pretensions, though. There are few things as wonderfully goofy as seeing a spaced-out Matt Frewer wandering down main street with an icicle sticking out of his head, or a gang of screaming, armor-clad midgets attacking a carload of terrified Satanists with medieval weapons. Although Allan (PUMP UP THE VOLUME, EMPIRE RECORDS) Moyle's comedy direction could've been just a tad snappier here and there, he keeps things zipping along nicely and manages to make much of the film look really good. The photography is rich and some of the imagery, especially that which takes advantage of the icy, wintry setting, is beautiful.

While UP IN SMOKE was mainly a live-action cartoon about the joys of getting off, WEIRDSVILLE lets us laugh at three drug-addled screwups--Royce, Dex, and Matty--who are both hilarious and pathetic, and somehow endearingly sympathetic. Their adventures during the course of one crisis-filled night make for a very entertaining movie that somehow isn't nearly as lightweight as most of its kind. One thing--stick around until the end of the closing credits, and you'll actually get to see, God help us, a commercial for Cigatea.

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