Directed By: Kelly Makin
Starring: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald
Tag line: "Shove this up your mind"
Trivia: Paramount executives wanted the Cancer Boy character removed from the film but the Kids adamantly refused
I have never seen a single episode of The Kids in the Hall, a Canadian sketch comedy series that aired from 1988 to 1994. Featuring the collective talents of Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson, The Kids in the Hall built up a loyal following, and was nominated three years running for a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Variety or Music Program. By all accounts, 1994’s Brain Candy was a cinematic extension of the group’s small-screen antics, and if this film is any indication, I definitely missed something special by not catching their television show. Brain Candy is flat-out funny!
Roritor Pharmaceuticals is losing money fast, and its CEO, Don Roritor (Mark McKinney), is pressuring his Research and Development team to come up with a hot new drug. As luck would have it, one of his scientists, Chris Cooper (Kevin McDonald), is working on a revolutionary new antidepressant, one that allows those suffering from depression to relive their happiest memory over and over again. Thus far, the early results of the drug, eventually named Gleemonex, have been promising, and even though Cooper and his associates, which includes his sometimes girlfriend Alice (Bruce McCulloch), recommend they conduct more tests before putting it on the market, Gleemonex is immediately mass produced and released to the public. To Don Roritor’s delight, this wonder drug is a hit right out of the gate, making Chris Cooper an overnight celebrity.
And then the side effects kick in…
The Kids in the Hall have quite a bit in common with another famous troupe of funnymen: England’s Monty Python. Like the Pythons, the Kids themselves play a majority of the characters in Brain Candy (including most of the female roles), and the movie is more like a sketch comedy than a straight-on narrative (we even spend time with some of the patients taking Gleemonex, and their stories are just as hilarious as what goes on behind-the-scenes at Roritor Pharmaceuticals).
More than this, though, Brain Candy gives each one of the "Kids" ample opportunity to show off their comedic skills. Kevin McDonald makes for a likeable leading man, and the scenes where Chris Copper is dealing with his new-found superstardom are fun to watch (most memorable Is his appearance on a daytime talk show). As for the rest of the group, Mark McKinney does a fine job as the egotistical Don Roritor, who’s more interested in making a fast buck than he is putting out a safe product, and Dave Foley is equally as good as Marv, Roritor’s faithful assistant and favorite “yes” man. Aside from the meek and likable Alice, who has been secretly in love with Chris Cooper for years, Bruce McCulloch also portrays Grivo, a rock star whose bleak outlook on life changes drastically once Gleemonex enters the picture. The funniest of the bunch, though, is Scott Thompson, who plays both Mrs. Hurdicure, the elderly woman who serves as the very first test subject for Gleemonex; and Wally Terzinsky, a closeted homosexual who, despite his best efforts, has been unable to hide his true nature from his family (Wally himself seems to be the only one who doesn’t realize he’s gay).
It’s a shame that Brain Candy was the only movie The Kids in the Hall ever made (I’d have liked to see what they might have done next). What makes it easier to digest, though, is the fact that I have several seasons’ worth of their show waiting for me, and based on what I saw in Brain Candy, I’m looking forward to checking them out.