Pogey Beach offers a predicament: it’s a comedy that’s not necessarily funny, but you’ll still laugh for the right reasons. Jeremy Larter’s slacker comedy will put the viewer in more of a fugue state than sun stroke ever could.
Expanding on a web series titled Just Passing Through, Pogey Beach follows the absurd lives of Prince Edward Islanders who have figured out a way to cheat the system and live off of unemployment cheques. While that premise may not initially ignite hilarity, the manner in which Larter’s film presents this small society is amusing. It’s all very pragmatic; as if no one in this hazy community has ever second guessed a decision. Days are spent on the beach – either getting drunk or getting “some” – while everyone honours the King of Pogey Beach.
The reigning King is Gary Gallant (Robbie Carruthers). His power and clout only exist within his prestigious title – Gary doesn’t really have any responsibilities. You’ve seen adolescent lifeguards with more duties. Gary’s rival, bottle collector Lyle MacDonald (Ryan Cameron), is convinced he’ll dethrone the ragtag royalty, but everyone’s Summer is at stake when business-savvy Torontonian Winslow (Love in the Sixth‘s Dennis Trainor) moves in to take over the local fish plant. The fish plant, also known as “Pogey Jail”, is low on staff and Winslow, after discovering all of the potential workers on the beach, is eager for new hires. His daughter Bethany (Celia Koughan) is attracting more attention with the locals though.
Pogey Beach is chock-full of East coast comedy and niche slang. It has the same spirit as Nik Sexton’s How to be Deadly, only Pogey Beach is a lot more vulgar which makes it less appealing than Sexton’s flick. The sex-crazed gags and the crass language are shocking, but it’s not particularly clever unless you know people who are like the beach’s horny residents. The framework, however, is where the film finds its strides because of its innocence. Everyone’s fear of finding full-time work (even going so far as mourning those who work at the fish plant) is funny because it’s so ridiculous, but also because it further explains the existence of this weird sub-culture. Likewise for the out-of-towners. Bethany is a character that’s played best when she’s naïve to the behaviour around her. As soon as she’s accustomed to the beach’s immaturity and becomes “one of the gang”, the character loses her charm and becomes just another clone.
Nonetheless, Pogey Beach will, assumably, be a hit with Canadian easterners. It possesses the qualities of a cult film, especially considering the web series’ built-in audience that helped fund the film’s Kickstarter campaign. Pogey Beach may have not been entirely for me, but it will be for somebody.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie