You Might as Well Live
- Directed by Simon Ennis
- Written by Simon Ennis and Josh Peace
- Starring Josh Peace, Michael Madsen, Stephen McHattie, Clark Johnson, Dov Tiefenbach, Liane Balaban and Kristen Hager
- Classification: 14A
I enjoy a dumb comedy as much as the next guy - the ruder, cruder and more politically incorrect the better. I get to see a lot of them (such is the life of a reviewer). But I'm sorry to say they rarely live up to the promise of the trailer, which we all know edits together all the best bits to make them much funnier than they are when you see them in the actual movie.
As my fellow reviewers can attest, the distributors usually make us watch these movies with an audience, at a public preview screening a couple days before the opening. The idea, I guess, is that the infectious laughter of the non-critics that make up the bulk of the audience will influence the humourless, jaded reviewers sitting in the reserved seats at the end of the row. More often than not, however, the silence is deafening. You go to a comedy expecting to laugh, and when you don't it's almost as bad as going to a horror movie and not being scared (which also happens a lot).
All of which brings me to You Might as Well Live , which sounds like the title of a horror movie but which is, I am happy to report, a rude, crude, very politically incorrect independent homegrown dumb comedy - albeit with an edge - that is also very funny. Believe me, I had some trepidation. There was not a public preview screening (uh oh, what does this mean?), so I watched the film at home with one other person, who was doubled-over with genuine laughter most of the time. Highly infectious.
Many dumb comedies follow the fortunes of one guy (sometimes two, in the case of Dumb and Dumber ) who seems ill-equipped for life in "normal" society and yet, eventually, rises above expectations, often thwarting a bully villain or two and usually getting the girl or the money or both. You Might as Well Live does not attempt to reinvent the wheel, but it does play with conventions and expectations, in addition to giving us a bunch of fresh characters (played by an excellent cast) that buck the stereotypes. And it has a real story, as opposed to the "sketch comedy" groove so many Hollywood comedies fall into.
Everyone in town thinks our hero, Robert Mutt (Josh Peace), is a moron, a pervert or douche bag. But he's too happy for the depression ward of the local psychiatric hospital (where George the orderly, a hilarious cameo by Clark Johnson, has been winning money by betting on Robert's various "skills," in particular air hockey) and is soon kicked out. So Robert decides to prove he's a "real somebody." He follows advice from a dream vision of local baseball hero Clinton Manitoba (Michael Madsen), a gruff cowboy of a guy who tells him the three keys to success are getting some money, a girl and a championship ring.
Easier said than done, of course. His best friend Hershey (Dov Tiefenbach) gets him a "delivery" job - drugs, organs, weapons, etc. - but he loses the loot to a transvestite on his first real date. His creepy neighbour Fred (Stephen McHattie) has convinced the neighbourhood he's a pedophile (he's not) and the witch hunt escalates. Even the air-hockey tournament he believes will help secure his success turns out to be just for kids.
Robert's many adventures - he joins the Jewish faith, he discovers the local weatherman is into kinky sex - all happen on the road to rock bottom. Although You Might as Well Live flirts with dark comedy, Robert's blithe spirit and unusual skills (he can understand catatonic people) keep this tightly scripted comedy on the fast track to a very twisted happy ending.
Special to The Globe and Mail