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Tommie-Amber Pirie and Aaron Abrams in The Go-Getters.Courtesy of GAT

  • The Go-Getters
  • Directed by: Jeremy Lalonde
  • Written by: Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall
  • Starring: Aaron Abrams, Tommie-Amber Pirie and Kristian Bruun
  • Classification: PG
  • 83 minutes


2 out of 4 stars

The Go-Getters is an unpleasant-tasting comedy about a pair of ne’er-do-wells hoping to raise enough scratch to leave Toronto. The Canadian feature begins with the duo’s male half being urinated upon in an alleyway. “Sorry,” says the urninator, “I thought you were garbage.” Well, Owen (played by co-writer Aaron Abrams) is garbage, and so is his quarrelsome partner-in-grime, Lacie (Tommie-Amber Piri). We come upon her passed out in a barroom bathroom, where she stops foaming at the mouth long enough to vomit.

The script from Abrams and Brendan Gall asks the right question – have these lowlifes found soulmates in each other or are they just potential cases of syphilis? – only to then make an obscene film out of the wrong answer. Compared with shiftless, dull-witted Owen and the low-rent prostitute Lacie, Barfly’s Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway were playing Romeo and Juliet. Compared to the street-and-saloon-set action of The Go-Getters, HBO’s Shameless is The Partridge Family.

Which doesn’t make it a bad film, necessarily. We can and do take pleasure in the despair of others. In fact, the Germans have a term for it: Werner Herzog. But The Go-Getters – you don’t need me to tell you the title is ironic – is a bad film. Owen and Lacie have everything in common, but no emotional connection. Abrams and Piri (so good in the 2014 Canadian rom-com Pretend We’re Kissing) have scant on-screen charisma. And, even if they did, their dialogue together is nothing more than foul-mouthed insults – unimaginative ones at that.

The director is Jeremy Lalonde, whose previous films include Sex After Kids and How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town. Lalonde also works on CBC comedy Baroness Von Sketch Show. The Go-Getters does feel like a string of somewhat-connected sketches.

I liked the soundtrack. One song, by Andre Williams, has an off-colour title that is better left to Google. Or, better yet, to the imagination. And those of a certain generation will appreciate a Bob Villa reference, especially given the illicit context.

Kristian Bruun is charming as Owen’s long-suffering bartender bother. Note also the brief performances of Scott Thompson and Teresa Pavlinek (as tourists) and Ennis Esmer (as an unflappable cabbie).

I suppose that even though this film is set within the world of the clownishly down-and-out in Toronto, it attempts to say something uplifting. If so, that something is very well disguised. The screenplay is lean and unsentimental, but takes us nowhere. I didn’t buy the resolution, if you can call it that.

The Go-Getters opens Dec. 7 in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa

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