Brain Candy

I like the Kids in the Hall. I thought their show was funny, and when I heard their feature length movie Brain Candy was coming out on DVD, I looked forward to seeing it. Unfortunately, I also like Saturday Night Live, and have been burned by one too many unfunny SNL movies. Three minute ideas often become painful ten-minute skits, and excruciatingly long 90-minute films.

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy falls into the same trap. With no one telling the guys what works, what doesn’t, what should be more developed and what should be cut, the guys spend their hour and a half of screen time throwing everything they have at the screen, seeing what sticks. Unfortunately for us, very little does.

Brain Candy tells the “story” of a group of research scientists working for Roritor, Inc, who discover a pill that cures depression. Due to pressure from the company’s CEO, they decide to release the drug on the world, sans any major testing. The drug switches from being a prescription-only medication to an over the counter pill, and soon the entire world is without depression. Unfortunately for Roritor, a minor side effect is discovered — some of the drug’s users are left in a coma, with their brains stuck in their happiest memories. The scientists must regroup and discover a cure.

The first ten minutes is spent parading cameos of characters apparently from the KitH television show. They never reappear, and their appearances are pointless to the plot. Halfway through the movie I kept wondering if any of those characters would ever reappear, but they never do.

I’d file Brain Candy under those movies that made me chuckle a few times, but not one that I’d call “funny”. When the scientist meets “Cancer Boy,” their conversation ends with a long, awkward pause which made me offer up a “heh,” but my grin was gone long before the scene ended. It’s jokes like this where the guys could use some directorial guidance — the joke might sound funny on paper or on the set, but while watching the movie it just doesn’t go over big. Oh, and half the movie’s jokes revolve around men playing women, so if you don’t find that hilarious, you’ll find yourself sitting around and not laughing like myself. Guys in drag, got it, saw it on the show, saw it here. Not really that funny anymore.

Some of the biggest jokes in the movie come when you actually get to enter people’s heads and see what their happiest (and later, saddest) memories are. Big surprise when the old lady’s memories revolve around her son and grandkids visiting, or when the gay man’s remembers fond memories of bootcamp. Sure, they had minor funny moments, but they all seemed to just go for the obvious. Only Mrs. Hurdicure’s saddest memory was something slightly original, which ended up being one of the funniest moments in the film.

The film does seem to make a few jabs at society, particularly in the directions of corporate America and the use of medications in society. While I got it, I really don’t go looking to Canadian comedy troupes for deep mental stimulation either. If they were counting on those references to carry the movie along, it failed.

As only a casual fan of the television show, I don’t know if there were a bunch inside jokes I just didn’t get, or if no one watching the film got them. A commentary track might have filled me in, but that’s one extra that didn’t make it to the DVD. Actually, no extras made it to the DVD. If this DVD had any fewer extras, it would be called a VHS tape. Chapter selection and subtitles are the only features found here.

If you’ve ever watched the KitH television show, you know that some of their skits work, and some don’t. Brain Candy seems like a bunch of strung together skits that for the most part, don’t work. If I saw this in a bargain bin for $5 I might pick it up, that’s about all I can say for it. A string of mediocre jokes from people that I normally find very funny.

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