CATEGORIES Comedy, Independent, Theatrical Reviews, Festival Reports, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie, Toronto Film Festival, Reviews, Cinematical
I didn't know it at the time, but I was first introduced to Allan Moyle in Squeeze Play, when he was the "Wet T-Shirt Waterboy." The flick is an old, risque adult comedy that my friend and I would sneakily watch late at night during sleepovers (when we were way too young for the buttocks-ball-catching material). But it wasn't until the '90s that Moyle hit his stride, directing two music-laden, teen cult classics -- my beloved Pump Up the Volume and the goofy yet lovable Empire Records. After that, he was teen-tuckered out and made a few forgettable movies with Baldwin brothers and the surprisingly mellow New Waterford Girl. But now he has revisited some of his previous music magic with the quirky, Canadian black comedy -- Weirdsville.
The flick is pretty much Harold and Kumar meets Bubble Boy, but take away the Fabio-freaks and add in some Satanists. Wes Bentley's Royce and Scott Speedman's Dexter are stoners who hang out with a waifish escort named Matilda (Taryn Manning -- what a surprise). They owe a drug dealer named Omar (Raoul Bhaneja) a big chunk of change, so they strike up an agreement to sell drugs to pay it off. But Royce and Matilda speed through the stash in a marathon week of drugging, and now the trio is without the money or drugs to pay Omar back. Oh, and Matilda has OD'd and died.
The friends get the great idea to bury her, and they go to a drive-in to do so. Unfortunately, the pair run into a preppy collection of devil worshipers intent on collecting some blood. On the bright side, Matilda isn't dead. She wakes up, goes crazy on the Satan-lovers and the three escape. The rest of the film deals with the Satanic aftermath and their plan to save themselves from Omar -- steal a safe sure to be full of money from a man in the hospital -- who happens to be played by Matt Frewer -aka- Max Headroom. Through the night, they also have run-ins with a wacky, drug-loving teen, a charitable ex-hippie, a little-but-tough security guard and his medieval cohorts, and even more Satanists.
Weirdsville is more stylish than the comedies I compared it to above, and definitely darker. Some of the darkness seems a bit awkward and almost unnecessary -- especially some of the Satanist activity. However, it makes more sense once you know about the metamorphosis of Willem Wennekers' script -- it was originally a horror action movie, but it became a funky slacker comedy under the eye of Moyle.
There are two big strengths to the film, which make it easy to ignore the occasional flaw and have a good time. First, Moyle really tapped into his '90s groove and has created another movie utterly fueled by its music. The soundtrack is absolutely stellar, and if they don't release it -- it would be a total waste. Secondly, you can't help but fall for the chemistry between Bentley and Speedman. After a few minutes of them on-screen, I'd forgotten about Bentley's work after American Beauty, and found a new respect for Speedman. They have a genuine rapport, and they make you completely buy their friendship -- even when it seems hard to believe that they'd put up with each other.
While Weirdsville didn't engulf me like some of Moyle's previous work, it's a horse of a different color. It's not rife with quotable lines, aging rock stars, or an Eat Me, Beat Me Lady, but it's fun, endearing, and quite fluid for a stoner comedy. It's also recognizably Canadian (the drug dealer is into curling), but still completely palpable for wider audiences. If the plot sounds fun, if you're into good music, or if you want to see Bentley with some wonderful, bushy chin fuzz, you'll get what you're looking for.