Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Screwball Academy

(Reuben Rose, 1986)
In between his triumphant direction of SCTV and his triumphant direction of Kids in the Hall, John Blanchard lent his talents to this wacky slapstick satire. So why is his name absent from the credits? Possibly because this movie is a disaster; or maybe I should say 'these movies' - each of the multifarious narratives seems to be aspiring to a different genre. Colleen Camp's feminist director does wisecracking screwball while her mincing Czech backers do gross dialect humour; Kenneth Welsh's hammy deadpan as the luddite fundamentalist gives way to the painfully gloppy romantic awakening of sheltered son Peter Spence. Meanwhile Janet Good plays herself and Damian Lee acts like he wishes he was an actor. Maybe Blanchard was trying to show off his unquestioned mastery of diverse comic styles - in which case somebody should have reminded him that movies don't work like that - but one suspects less calculated machinations were at play. And nobody benefits from the softcore drop-ins, the abrupt narrative truncations, or the 'inspirational' climax comprising a few dozen extras going for a walk. Some of the performers - Camp, Welsh, even love interest Wendy Bushell - might have seemed inspired in a competently made film; we'll never know.

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