Dope and unicorns

Trailer Park Boys return for more profane hijinks

When Trailer Park Boys debuted in 2001 (yup that long ago) it was an instant hit. The foul-mouthed roughneck soap opera following the exploits of Julian Ricky and Bubbles was great satire — it was mean and nasty but just enough that it didn’t ruin the intelligence and humanity behind the characters. Who would’ve guessed that this series had such longevity? And more interestingly (or distressingly depending on your POV) that it’s become so iconic of a particular breed of Canadian — rural hard-drinking slack-jawed po-dunk and (mostly) stupid.

Typically these characters belong in a slobs versus snobs comedy but in the microcosm of the Trailer Park Boys everyone is down and out; sort of like The Waltons if they lived in mobile homes and smoked lots of weed. It’s clearly a winning formula with a long-running series specials and films to the creators’ credit.

Unlike the gang’s first big-screen outing Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (which actually resembled a theatrical release bigger and slicker than the TV show) this latest adventure Don’t Legalize It looks and feels like an extended episode of the series transplanted to the screen. That said the movie assumes a more than passing familiarity with the Trailer Park Boys world and its characters running themes and in-jokes.

The film opens in a landfill (the film’s esthetic doesn’t get much richer than that) with Ricky (Robb Wells) delivering a eulogy for his dear ol’ departed dad. Julian (John Paul Tremblay) is recently out of jail and Bubbles (Mike Smith) is delivering smokes and fried chicken door to door for pocket money.

The former business partners have gone their separate ways with Ricky tending a grow-op located in a nearby subdivision (the trailer park is always nearby) and Julian pilfering gallons of drug-free urine from a local army base which he sells to people who need to pass a clean piss test.

From there a sort of ramshackle narrative emerges — Bubbles finds out his long-lost parents are dead and they’ve left him a home and some land; Julian needs to deliver the urine to dealers in Montreal; Ricky wants to attend a public referendum in Ottawa. He’s heard that the government is about to legalize marijuana and he’s outraged — after all the years he’s spent in jail for dealing he sees decriminalization as a great injustice. And of course it’ll put him out of business.

Most of the characters from the series return for this outing too — there’s evil trailer park superintendent Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth) hoping to thwart the boys’ fortunes and straight thuggin’ J-Roc (Jonathan Torrens) recently hilariously returned from his triumphant and award-winning performance at a Calgary rap competition.

The film like the show is presented as a reality TV series making it even more curious why it’s appearing on the big screen. There isn’t anything to really distinguish it as being separate or cinematic other than some minor character reveals. By this point the series has become like an old favourite pair of comfy shoes — sturdy and dependable no bells or whistles. No small feat considering the roughshod DNA of the characters and their dirty crumbling world. Director Mike Clattenburg who has been behind the series from the beginning gives the whole thing a sense of calculated stability; I imagine it’s harder than it looks to maintain a consistent esthetic for such an unwieldy beast.

Though the film runs out of steam before its 90 minutes are up in a pseudo-stab at political relevancy and tiresome criminal shenanigans the jokes as always are sharp and hilarious. Don’t Legalize It becomes then a tricky proposition – funny and full of wit but for diehard fans only.

TRAILER PARK BOYS: DON’T LEGALIZE IT directed by Mike Clattenburg starring John Paul Tremblay Robb Wells and Mike Smith opens on Friday April 18.