Hey guys, Double D here again and I’ve decided to start doing some DVD reviews along with my regularly scheduled movie reviews. So whenever a DVD comes my way I’m going to plop it in, watch all the bonus features and let you know what I thought of the film and the features on the disc. I’ll also do this for Blu-Rays as soon as I can get my hands on a PS3. So stay tuned for lots more reviews from the name you trust, Double D!
Anyways, without any further adieu, let’s cut to the actual review. Now you may have seen the title for this review and asked yourself, “What the heck is GravyTrain?” That’s exactly what I was asking myself when I was personally invited to the film’s premier in Toronto about a month ago by Tim Doiron, the film’s writer and star. We met at the Toronto Fan Expo last year where Tim and co-star/ director of GravyTrain April Mullen were promoting their previous film, Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser. I saw their booth while I was out collecting footage for our TWiG Fan Expo video and got some footage of Tim and April doing a tossing demonstration. I decided to e-mail them later for a copy of the film on DVD (which I have since misplaced somehow) and never expected Tim to e-mail me again. Well, low and behold, he remembered who I was and was inviting me to the premier of his next film at the AMC Yonge and Dundas in Toronto. Tim and April, along with several other actors from the film (including A.C. Peterson, who you may remember from Defendor, who sat almost right behind me) were there and Tim and April personally introduced the film and did a short Q&A afterwards. Then, just this week, I had the privilege of attending the film’s final showing in the Niagara Square Cinema in Niagara Falls where the film was shot. It’s very rare that a film is shot this close to home for me, let alone a film of this quality and the turnout was fantastic for this event, which just goes to show you that Canadians are more than willing to support local cinema as long as it’s good. Tim and April were there once again to introduce the film and do an even longer Q&A and I also got a chance to pick up a free signed GravyTrain poster and a copy of the film a day early on DVD. Don’t tell anyone I got it early though.
Anyways, enough of me, let’s start talking about the DVD. First I’ll start with the movie itself. I was never blown away by Rock, Paper Scissors to be honest. It was OK and it did have a certain charm and exerted a sort of unique quirky quality that definitely became an asset for GravyTrain, but I felt it didn’t have the same staying power that GravyTrain hopefully will. Because of my slight disappointment I wasn’t really expecting much out of this film, but I was pleasantly surprised. GravyTrain was made on a shoestring budget and shot in just over two weeks, but it was a massive step up from Tim and April’s first film and really showcased just how creative and entertaining a film can be, even without a massive budget. It’s entertaining, engaging and hilarious! GravyTrain is seriously a heck of a lot of fun for anyone looking for something unique to watch this summer. I was definitely not disappointed with this pleasant surprise of a film and actually I found myself laughing out loud at many of the scenes. It’s silly, it’s juvenile, but it’s also hysterical! Perfect comedic timing and brilliant performances and ad-libs from acting talent that includes SNL’s Tim Meadows, Who’s Line is it Anyway’s Colin Mochrie and Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew among others really make this film float above the crowd in terms of low-budget comedies. I never got bored and I never stopped laughing.
GravyTrain is basically a 70’s cop drama spoof about a man named Charles Gravytrain whose father is killed when he’s a child by a mysterious serial killer named Jimmy Fisheyes. 20 years later Charles is all grown up and has been hunting for Jimmy all his life. All of a sudden a new cop named Uma Booma comes to town to become Charles’ new partner and once again the bodies start piling up. Things get even more suspicious when avant-garde filmmaker Hansel Suppledick shows up to shoot his next experimental film starring Charles in the lead. This may sound kind of crazy and even I couldn’t come up with names like Hansel Suppledick (not to mention the local whorehouse proprietor, Madame Handlescock) and you know what? It is crazy and ridiculous, but in the best kind of way. This is my kind of crazy. This is my kind of ridiculous. You really need to see it to enjoy it. So if you can find a copy, get it. There are a few parts that go a bit too over-the-top and some of the comedy gets lost (a tripped-out drug scene being the best example) but for the most part this is top shelf comedy. Not bad considering the crap that Hollywood’s best has been delivering these days.
So, let’s move on to the next part of my review, the DVD. I was not disappointed with this either. This DVD contained everything I wanted it to contain and then some. The best feature is probably a commentary with Tim Doiron and April Mullen explaining the writing, directing and acting from behind the camera in a very in-depth way that really lets you get into the mindset of what it’s like to make a small-budget Canadian feature film. They also point out lots of little things in the frame that you’ll probably miss the first time around (watch for when a dear unexpectedly trots through the background). It’s definitely worth watching with the commentary track on. There’s also a very informative 20 minute making-of with interviews from most of the cast members that really delves into the 15-day production of the film. We’re also given the treat of over a half-hour’s worth of deleted scene (my only complaint would be that there’s no “Play All” function for these scenes) that help explain some of the film’s subplots, but ultimately slowed down the pacing so they had to be cut, but it’s still interesting to watch them and some are pretty funny as well. We also get the trailers and interviews that were part of the film’s electronic press kit. There’s also a pretty hilarious blooper real, because you can’t have a comedy with no blooper real. If these features weren’t enough we also get lots of other short little extras like the story of how they shot the film in the Empire Building in Niagara Falls, a bonus Hansel Suppledick short film and even more. Like I said, the bonus features were not disappointing. Some of them were really short, but there were enough of them to keep anyone entertained and make it really worth your money to buy this fantastic film on DVD.
So, if you’re in the mood for a great comedy, made by people who really care about what they’re doing with a top notch cast and top notch jokes, this film is for you. I always like to support Canadian Cinema as long as it’s good and this is almost as good as it gets.
I give GravyTrain a 4/5.
Stay tuned for more reviews and blogs, including a look at my favorite movie of all time!