(Michael Rubbo, 1985)
Working for Rock Demers, Rubbo finds the perfect tone for this kid's film: conversational, casual, bemused. There's nothing scrubbed-down or idealized about the chaotic family at the film's center; they pursue their petty obsessions, they get in each other's way, they chat on about nothing. In particular, the kids' eccentric artist dad seems to live on another planet, as does his evil opposite number, a diabolical art teacher who demands strict realism with an obsessiveness that resonates with the filmmaker's NFB pedigree. So, all mixed up with the haunted houses and phantom panhandlers and household magic gone wrong, we get a delirious child's-eye view of the neuroses of the art world - as well as, eventually, a completely deadpan introduction to the cruelties of sweatshop labour. Such things are not exactly staples of the genre, and they're heartfelt and whimsical, played for enjoyable absurdity instead of redeeming social value. In fact, each pivotal touch of fantasy and heroism is so cockeyed and so offhand that the film could have been written by an 11 year old, with the tossed-off pubic hair gag emblematic of the whole enterprise's brilliant lack of propriety.