As much as I always loved the first Fubar movie, I never once asked myself “why are we not seeing the further adventures of Terry and Dean?” Perhaps that’s because I remember reading about a poorly received book they released 5 or 6 years ago (which I imagine was similar to the Beavis and Butthead ones I enjoyed when I was 12) and the subsequent promotional tour around Canadian university campuses. Does anyone else remember this? Probably not. So I was very skeptical when I found out they were premiering the sequel at this year’s festival. To mix metaphors, I thought they were returning to the well to milk a dead cow. Fortunately there was enough water left in the well to keep the cow alive and ready to be milked for our viewing pleasure once again!
It’s not a perfect follow-up, but we all know how rarely that happens (Slap Shot 2: breaking the ice went about 10 feet wide of the goal). I appreciated it for the ways it was different from the first film, and could have done without the ways it was similar. With Farrel out of the picture (R.I.P.) , they’ve done away with most of the mockumentary techniques utilized in the first film, but director Michael Dowse holds onto a couple of them like someone easing himself into walking on his own by shedding one crutch at at time. I understand that these actors improvise a lot, so they’re going to stick with the handheld camera and jump cutting, but there are still three or four instances when a character (I think almost always Terry) talks to the camera. Why? Who are they talking to? Are Terry and Dean still being documented? It’s an odd balance that I’m sure most people won’t even notice. Not only has the first film already acclimatized most viewers to this motif, but so has the popularity of shows like The Office and Trailer Park Boys.*
Fubar II delivers the expected laughs, but I wasn’t expecting to get as involved in the story as I did. The movie opens with an eviction party where we see the notorious Tron (who had settled down with his old lady in the first movie) has returned to his old partying ways as the boys demolish the house. Tron has also come into some money by working the oil fields of Fort McMurray. Terry and Dean follow him to make their fortune and despite finding some prosperity, it’s not quite the snabba cash they thought it would be. I don’t want to give too much away, but the film also includes a love triangle, a suicide pact, a trip to the West Edmonton mall and a surprisingly sentimental, Christmassy third act. There was clearly a well thought-out script in place while shooting, which again made me wonder why the director still stuck so closely to the mockumenatry aesthetic.
The acting was solid, these guys have clearly immersed themselves in the characters many times before, but the real breakaway performance in the movie was Terra Hazelton as Terry ‘s love interest Trish. It’s rare to see someone who can do something that’s funny, dramatic and believable all at once. This is her first film role but I think that her’s is a face we’ll get used to. Andy Sparacino as Tron is also given a lot more to do this time around and does it admirably, especially considering he is also without any non-Fubar related film credits.
Fortunately for Paul Spence (Dean) and Dave Lawrence (Terry), their schtick has aged as well as they have. It’s been almost a decade since the first film, but their ship has not sailed yet. The jokes don’t taste stale and it doesn’t feel like we’re watching the guys from Anvil, Wayne’s World, or Bob and Doug Mackenzie try to recapture their youth. They avoid having too many “Give’rs” and replaced them with new potential catchphrases like “life is deadly.” As writers they have matured, and despite occasionally recycling a used idea or joke, they’ve managed to take these characters to a place that is interesting and realistic and most importantly, kept us laughing.
*Despite the Trailer Park Boys airing their first season a year before the first Fubar movie came out, I can’t help but feel like the Fubar films kind of bookended the TPB phenomenon. Although Alberta is a long way from Nova Scotia, you can’t deny the similarities. Ricky, Julian and Bubbles say they’ve left the Sunnyvale trailer park for good, but I think they should meet up with Terry and Dean in Toronto for the party to end all parties.