It must be nice for director Mike Clattenburg to know the Trailer Park Boys fan base he’s co-created isn’t going anywhere. That must be why his latest criminal adventure with Sunnyvale’s best isn’t afraid to experiment with a beginning of downbeats.
Clattenburg – who knows how to maneuver through ridiculous circumstances with these hilariously seedy characters using DIY filmmaking – oddly sets the bar low with the likability factor this time. He also heavily punctuates just how pathetic everyone is, which takes some wind out of the film’s sails.
The film begins with a dysfunctional reunion at a funeral at the local dump – almost as if it’s egging the audience to call it a backwoods version of August: Osage County instead of its given title: Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It.
Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles (all played once again by John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells, and Mike Smith) have their own separate stories in motion. Julian and Ricky are still creating schemes, but want nothing to do with each other. Meanwhile, Bubbles runs his own chicken-and-liquor delivery business and lives beneath a porch.
In the cult Canadian series, it’s usual that the boys keep a distance with their friendship after “doing time”. However, with this latest sequel, it adds to the dreariness and detachment. Not to mention that production must’ve gotten caught up in Canada’s bipolar weather – causing the film to take on a chillier atmosphere than it’s used to.
Don’t Legalize It slowly finds its way back to its regularly scheduled programming, but the search isn’t without dry spots. I actually shouldn’t say “dry spots”. It’s just the fact the film isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. It’s as if Clattenburg realizes that this more sombre setup isn’t what the film needs. There’s no time to focus on comedy, when the person in charge is trying to swim up to the surface before he’s swallowed up.
That’s not to say this next chapter with these schlubby chums is devoid of humour. It’s consistent with dealing out small chuckles and memorable quirks that will have you snickering hours after you’ve watched the flick. Seeing Ricky subtly eat pickles out of a jar using a twig was an image that still makes me grin.
It’s also a pleasure to watch other characters from the series incorporate themselves in the nuttiness. I’ve always loved to hate Bernard Robichaud’s Cyrus, so it was awesome to see the scuzzy villain play a key role in this latest chapter.
Clattenburg gets Don’t Legalize It back on track by having the boys hit the road in a station wagon with a mission taking them to Ottawa’s parliament building. When the government is thinking about legalizing marijuana, Ricky and Julian start to sweat. Their businesses depend on customers who don’t mind breaking the law to buy some weed or to purchase clean urine. Don’t worry, it all makes sense – including the satire Clattenburg and co-writer Mike O’Neill are going for.
Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It may not be as lively as The Big Dirty or as bold as Countdown to Liquor Day, but it’s a folksy road movie with a good story and a considerable amount of chuckles to get the job done. Or, as Bubbles would put it: decent.