When I had an interest in reviewing Toronah, filmmaker and Wild Wing founder Rick Smiciklas insisted I watch a season of his reality TV show Wingmen before jumping into his feature film debut. I agreed, and watched the first season on iTunes (which I liked despite its forgetful narrative).
The first act of Toronah had me confused as to why Wingmen was a prerequisite. The story (which is set in a slightly fictitious world) involves Rick and his cousin Mickey trying to meet each other. Mickey – who lives in Chicago – travels to Toronto to touch base with Rick as Rick travels airborne to meet Mickey in Chicago. During this botched rendezvous, miscellaneous and deceptive acquaintances turn up and add more perplexity to this already convoluted plot.
Smiciklas’ production has been quite open with the unscripted nature of Toronah. Even if they kept this detail hush-hush, the proof is seen loud and clear on screen. There is little continuity in Smiciklas’ film. The film cuts to and fro from Toronto and Chicago with a vague “ask questions later” attitude. A tolerable decision for reality TV, but not for a movie. For instance, both Rick and Mickey have aggressive confrontations with women who are welcoming one moment, vicious the next, and then return to being warm without a moment of thought. The same goes for the men who are just as unpredictable with their swift, unmotivated actions. However, at least the men have scenes of hashed-out redemption. The women are either pushed off or dressed up in low-cut attire.
Just as I was losing hope, the guys from Wingmen started trickling into Toronah. Mild Ricky, Backdoor Billy, Doug the Lawyer, Mayor Bill Duffy, Rick’s mother, Franco the Baker, and Faith Power all appear unannounced as if Rick Smiciklas is secretly conducting a study of how a human brain lights up when it recognizes familiarities. Unfortunately, these people are really only present to flesh out Rick’s overarching social influence in the film. Everyone, except for Lars. He shows up as his infamous Boss Hogg alter ego and never breaks out of it. It would’ve been nice if the filmmaker addressed this contradiction for viewers familiar with Wingmen’s version of Lars.
Toronah is a weird movie, and not in a way that incites cult status. The story of various whodunits is incoherent, uninteresting, and in dire need of a concrete vision. Meanwhile, the slew of attractive hometown cutaways around Toronto’s sights and sounds feel like another chapter in Smiciklas’ private neurology experiment toward unsuspecting movie goers. I would only recommend Toronah for those who have seen Wingmen and enjoy the idea of a movie being staggeringly hijacked by those reality stars.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie