“I love this stupid town and I for one think it’s worth saving.”
Nobody could have said it better than Brent.
DOG RIVER FOR CANADA’S QUAINTEST TOWN?
It’s like no time has passed at all.
Dog River, Saskatchewan, the place where nothing ever happens.
We here in Canada have no blitz and glamour of Hollywood, no bright lights of Broadway, but we do have plentiful humour and Corner Gas.
The show ran from 2004 until 2009 and five years later comes The Corner Gas Movie.
We aren’t known in Canada for our celebrity film world, but with such institutions as TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) we are slowly gaining traction.
Corner Gas, the show and now the movie, they have become a bit of a Canadian staple, but the citizens of Corner Gas and the events of the town could be those to be found in any town, anywhere in the world.
It all started with an idea from creator, writer, actor Brent Butt. He wanted to write a show, based in Saskatchewan, in a fictional town known as Dog River, and with the centre of the town being the gas station.
Brent’s character runs the station, along with his employee Wanda.
Wanda is a tough little lady, always with a fowl mouth, backdoor scheme going and an angle to work.
Brent’s parents are Oscar and Emma, probably the worst example of a married couple there is. HE’s useless at just about everything he tries and she’s often embarrassed by what her crazy husband might be up to. The only way they have clearly survived this many years together…well, the both of them are just plain mean and miserable old geezers.
His favourite catch phrase is the ever popular: “Jackass!”
It’s actually a pretty simple insult, but it has become his catch phrase after all this time.
There’s Dog River’s resident jack-of-all-trades (lousy at them all), chronically unemployed best friend of Brent since childhood, Hank.
Then there’s the Ruby Cafe, owned and operated by Lacey. She’s the sweet one and probably one of the sharpest tools in the town shed, if not a little on the bossy side sometimes.
Finally, the whole town is policed by dynamic duo Karen and Davis. They spend most of their time policing where none is truly necessary. It isn’t quite clear what it is they do actually.
I was hoping this movie would feel like the show before it. I went to see it in its limited time release, extremely limited.
It was playing in theatres from Wednesday, December 3 to Sunday, December 7th only.
Before the start of the film is a live and interactive opening with Brent Butt himself and games such as:
Who said it?
Obama or Oscar?
The town is in a shambles when the movie opens: power, hydro, water, garbage are all piling up and falling into disrepair. Dog River’s mayor has been negligent and careless in his mismanagement.
In the condition Dog River is in, to be awarded the title of Canada’s Quaintest Town is their only hope, but its going to take a lot to become qualified.
This movie has more hijinks, as usual, but a softer side of Emma’s character. She is longing for a grandchild this time.
The show was never known for its romance and now Brent doesn’t seem like the best son to bet on for a hopeful future grandmother. Unfortunately, he is her only son. Maybe love really is in the air.
As things appear to look bleak for the town, Oscar is riding around on a horse, some mysterious real estate agents are going around offering people money for their homes, and Wanda is running an underground saloon/cassino behind Brent’s back.
A rift has opened between best lifelong friends Brent and Hank. Hank has come up with another one of his harebrained schemes and has just assumed Brent would back him.
Alliances seem shaky between police partners and pals Karen and Davis when his contract ends and he takes on a PI business, leaving Karen alone and pregnant and trying to police a dying Dog River.
All seems dyer and beyond all hope. Luckily this is a movie and not just a half hour show. More time to find a resolution.
I got what I wanted. It felt like one long version of the TV show and I think that’s what all good movies made from television shows should be. Plus, no Canadian film would be complete without a brief clip, a little Kim Mitchell and Go for a Soda.
The dry and sarcastic humour of Corner Gas and its entirely Canadian creator are clearly still the keys to the success and the familiarity here again. All the beloved characters are back and just as crazy as ever.
The movie only aired for five days and within two weeks it’s being aired on network CTV television.
At the heart of this film is Corner Gas and the man who runs it. Brent cares about his home and the people who live there. He may even be in love with one of them, the destruction of Dog River causing him to fear losing either Lacy or Wanda to a better life in the big city if Dog River is no more.
There is subterfuge and spy tactics afoot with a neighbouring town and perhaps the fate of their own could be left in the hands of townspeople such as Hank or Davis.
Meanwhile, back in dog River Lacey has been appointed leader of the Quaintification Committee.
It’s going to take more than a screw-up-of-a-town-mayor to destroy Dog River, not with its citizens all doing their best and being themselves, all in the name of saving the home they love.
As for this show and the subsequent movie, you may need to be Canadian to get the joke, but this Canadian is pretty proud of what we’ve got here.
I’m a sucker for romance and, no matter who ends up with whom in the movie, creator Brent Butt and costar Nancy Robertson (Wanda) met on set a few years after filming premiered. This gives Corner Gas an underlying love connection and special place in my own heart.
I love Brent’s unique writing style and his dry witty sense of humour, which resinates in everything he does. I was glad to see something like this made by Canadians and it was sweet to see, corny though it was at times, the audience who knew the theme song by heart and who sang unashamedly all around me in that theatre.
I don’t mean to suggest any true comparison, to any hardcore Seinfeld fans, but Corner Gas, in show or film version, is a show about nothing, but it’s the characters and the town’s overall personality that makes it memorable.
Corner Gas is the quintessential story about quaint Canadian life in a quaint Canadian town. After five years since the show rapped up, this made for the perfect one last hurrah, showing that community, friendship, family, love, and tradition are important Canadian values. Also, that Brent Butt knows how to write just as interesting a story and a highly sweet movie as was his TV show all those years.