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'The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy' - the Film

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The Kids in the Hall was a sketch comedy television show that was aired from 1989 to 1995. The show was written and acted by five Canadians: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson. It was amazingly funny and inventive, surreal and black-humoured in the style of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Kids were famous for dressing up as women, and gay characters were common on the show, largely because Scott Thompson is gay in real life. After the show ended, the Kids got back together one more time in 1996. The result was Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, their first - and probably only - movie.

If you have never seen the television show, chances are you probably will not enjoy the movie. If you are a fan of the show, you still may not like the movie. It's one of those films which needs to be seen more than once to be fully appreciated. Critics generally hated it or didn't understand it, and it was probably a failure at the box office. But Brain Candy is a bold, daring movie. It is dark, disturbing, artistic, and yet very funny at the same time. Once you get over the fact that it is very unlike the television show, you will begin to appreciate how good it really is.

Here is the basic plot: Chris Cooper (played by Kevin) is a scientist working for Roritor Pharmaceuticals. Chris has just invented a drug that fights depression and makes people happy all the time, partly by reminding them of their happiest memories. The founder of the company, Don Roritor (played by Mark), made it big years ago with a drug called Stummies, but lately Roritor has fallen on hard times. Don, looking for the next big thing, pressures Chris into making his new anti-depression drug available to the public. Initially the drug is a success, outselling even penicillin, and everyone who takes it is happy. Chris becomes a celebrity, which alienates Alice (played by Bruce), his would-be girlfriend. However, soon the people who have taken the drug fall into comas, unable to escape their happy memories.

The Kids strong suit has always been the various characters they play, and this movie is no exception. They play over 40 characters in the film, most of which are new creations. Mark steals the show as Don Roritor, the ruthless head of Roritor Pharmaceuticals. His voice and mannerisms are very reminiscent of Doctor Evil from the Austin Powers films, although Don came first. Don't forget to check out the similarities between Dr Evil's grey suit and the dark blue suit Don wears near the end of Brain Candy.

Don isn't the only great character in the movie, however. Bruce plays some wonderful roles, such as Grivo, the depressed heavy metal rocker who performs 'Some Days It's Dark'. After taking the drug, he writes a much more upbeat song entitled 'Happiness Pie.' Bruce also plays Cisco, the cocky head of marketing of Roritor, and Cancer Boy, who sounds a bit like Gavin from the television show.

Scott plays a man named Wally who doesn't realise he is gay. Everyone else knows it, including his wife and children. Scott also does a great old lady, in this case playing the first test subject for the drug. Kevin spends a large amount of time in the role of Chris Cooper, but also plays Chris' dad and Wally's wife. Dave Foley fans will be disappointed to find out that he has the least screen time in the movie, and in fact was the only Kid not listed as a writer. But he is very funny as Marv, the corporate yes-man and assistant to Don Roritor.

In addition to the new characters, there are 11 characters that originally appeared in the television show: the police cops (Bruce and Mark); Sid and Sharisse (Bruce and Mark); Raj and Lacey (Scott and Kevin); the cab driver (Mark); Nina Bedford (Mark); Melanie (Mark), Elizabeth II the Queen of England (Scott); and Bellini (Paul Bellini), who as always is dressed in nothing but his trademark towel.

One final note about the movie - the music is very well done. In addition to 'Some Days It's Dark,' 'Happiness Pie,' and Scott singing 'I'm Gay,' the background music fits the film perfectly. Although the band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet do not perform the television theme in the movie (it's too upbeat), they do provide some music, including the opening credits song. The soundtrack to the movie includes songs by They Might Be Giants, Liz Phair, Pavement, Matthew Sweet, Yo La Tengo, Cibo Matto, Pizzicato Five, Odds, and The Tragically Hip, as well as from Bruce, Scott, and yes, even Paul Bellini.

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