Late last year, Canadian indie Toronah snuck into a single theatre in the titled city.  The film piqued my curiosity, and I did some more research.  I ended up missing out on the film, but I began a dialogue with the film’s director Rick Smiciklas.  When I mentioned that I was interested in reviewing his film, Smiciklas suggested that a reality show titled Wingmen would act as a good introduction to Toronah since key players crossover.

Wylie Writes doesn’t usually cover this sort of content, but I also consider myself a reality television connoisseur.  If this show was going to add to Toronah’s experience, I was game.  It turns out Wingmen makes for a decent escape.  It’s easy to watch, peculiar and funny, and gives viewers more than the average reality show offers.  It’s a closer look at an eager workaholic (Smiciklas, the founder of the popular restaurant franchise Wild Wing) who is constantly given the challenge of finding a middle ground between business and family.

Rick maintains a solid infrastructure with his work partner Rob-Stuart Baldazzi, but the company goes topsy-turvy when Rick involves his long-time buddies with Wild Wing as well as other business opportunities.  The tomfoolery and procrastination from pals Backdoor Billy, ‘Boss Hogg’ Lars, Franco the Baker, and Mild Ricky only trudge up Rob-Stuart’s history of aggravation with the boys.

Wingmen doesn’t feel the need to begin and end a story within its 20-some-odd-minute duration like Duck Dynasty embarrassingly does.  Instead, the show plants hints of eccentricities through episodes which allows the personalities to resonate throughout the series.  Essentially, this gives Wingmen newcomers an opportunity to pick up the show halfway through without feeling lost, but also giving avid binge watchers rewards.  There are also plenty of flashbacks to jog anyone’s memory.

Wingmen is, unfortunately, a 10-episode series stretched to 13-episodes.  Episodes that feature vacations don’t add anything to the show, except for the production to take pride with how privileged it is.  There’s potential in a plot that involves Rick and Rob-Stuart booking coinciding holidays, but it devolves into mediocre home movies as we watch Rick lounge with ladies and Rob-Stuart complain about the weather.  The pace is thankfully broken up by the banter between Rick’s motley crew.

Wingmen hardly feels staged – a big compliment to a show like this.  There’s the occasional scenario where a confrontation looks set-up, but the exchange that happens between people is natural, especially when the talk escalates to an argument.  Early on in the show, we also see vulnerable conversations involving Rick that feel very cathartic for the rampant businessman. A teary meet-up with long-time compadre Silent Dom is particularly touching.

Wingmen starts out strong and diminishes into thin soup by the final episodes;  almost as if the editors had limited footage to choose from.  It’s not without flaws due to some tacky sound effects and video graphics that rev up how wacky life is behind the doors at Wild Wing, and the machismo can become crass when the boys are let loose around doe-eyed, unassuming women.  But, if reality television is your “thing”, Wingmen is one of the better reality shows available.


Wingmen is now available on iTunes and Vimeo On Demand.

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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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