red green's duct tape forever (2002)

director: eric till

steve smith, patrick mckenna, richard fitzpatrick, graham greene, peter keleghan, dave broadfoot

The longevity of comedian Steve Smithís Red Green character, and the phenomenal popularity of "The Red Green Show" on PBS south of the border, is probably only surprising to anyone who hasnít watched a group of American college students in a New York video store laughing uncontrollably at their twentieth viewing of a ten-year old tape of Strange Brew, the Doug and Bob MacKenzie movie.

For eleven seasons, Smith and his crew of Canadian character actors have been elaborating on the hapless denizens of Possum Lodge and their ringleader, Red Green, a backwoods bumbler whose dessicating sarcasm makes him the proverbial one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. The success of the show is perversely gratifying for anyone whoís spent time in the Canadian diaspora of cottage country, where the toaster oven is cutting edge technology, ancient brown stubbies are cherished, not returned, and fishing lures comprise the currency of an alternate economy. 

The inevitable movie spin-off of the show is basically a gentle re-write of The Blues Brothers: Possum Lodge is in danger of being bought by a sinister real estate developer, and Red and the boys have to manage a third-place win in a Minneapolis duct-tape sculpture contest to save their beloved lakeside hangout. The fixation on the third-place win is a sly Canadian joke that gets subtly elaborated upon during the film. Itís the one joke that Canadians can be sure no PBS viewer will get.

While the running duct tape gags (ďthe handymanís secret weaponĒ) of the t.v. show have long since exhausted their laugh potential, they did manage to translate into sponsorship from 3M for the low-budget movie. Smith has long proved that he can disappear into the Green character so thoroughly that itís surprising to discover that he doesnít actually speak in Redís trademark nasal, gravelly drawl. More surprising is seeing that Patrick McKenna can sustain his Harold character - Redís testosterone-deprived nephew - for more than a few cameos in a half-hour show.

There are few belly-laughs during the course of Duct Tape Forever. The movie was made for the showís legion of fans, its humour habitual and comforting, even ritual. In a world where the distance from Wawa to Nipigon takes a whole day, but the journey from Thunder Bay to Minneapolis can be covered in the course of a car chase, itís obvious that a viewer isnít expected to tax much more than their geographical commonsense. For fans, itís a must. For casual viewers, it depends on just how funny you consider a duct-tape goose on a trailer hitch firing potatoes from its rear end.