Brain Candyrecommended viewing

Please don't drink and write movie reviews
★★★★
☆☆
Released: 
1996
Director: 
Kelly Makin
Starring: 
Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson
The Setup: 
Satire of anti-depressant use and big pharma.
Discussion: 

In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I am drunk off my ass [actually not QUITE off my ass] as I went out with my co-workers for drinks after work, and now I’m on the subway home. And I just received my tape of Starcrash, and am looking forward to watching that, in my pre-wasted state, upon getting home. But please kids, don’t drink and write movie reviews. On the subway.

So anyway, I watched Brain Candy. I have never seen anything by the Kids in the Hall before, so I was a complete virgin, and although I knew that the men played women, I did not know that they would fill out an entire movie with a full range of characters with just the mere five from their troupe. So, educated I was indeed.

Anyway, after this really pretty cool credits sequence [that goes on FOREVER], we start meeting our multiplicity of characters. This can be quite unusual for the person coming to Kids in the Hall for the first time. We start with a homeless person who never appears again [this is a trick of the movie critic, pay attention to the first and last thing that you see, ho ho] giving way to a cab driver who ostensibly narrates the story. Then suddenly we’re with this heavy metal group. Then suddenly we’re with this married guy with two kids whacking off to this sort of what’s supposed to stand in for gay porn, where they show a bunch of guys in underwear and cowboy hats, with a “macho” voice saying “Mister disco.”

So the deal is that this group of scientists is doing the final tests on this drug that makes people happy. It located the happiest memory in their brains and keeps them there. In the first case, it is for an old woman who has made a Christmas turkey for her grandkids, who come and stay for like one minute before leaving again, saying “Sorry Mom, but the kids don’t like old people.” They leave, and she says what a wonderful time she had, and this is her happiest memory. Anyway, soon this woman is smiling and laughing and it seems that the drug is working. There’s another funny bit when they’re rotating this [other] grandma on this other rotor-thing and she keeps saying she’s fine “but a little dizzy,” and they just ignore her and go on like there’s no problem.

So it would seem that the board of this huge company that is giving the scientists their funding is facing cuts, and they call all the scientists up to their boardroom to find out what they’re doing. Chris Cooper [the character, not the actor] says, under pressure, that the drug is ready when it’s not, in order to continue his funding. The board says “well, as long as there’s no flipper babies,” and he says “well, there have been a few flipper babies.” Anyway, so the drug is approved and they toss it out to the public.

They call in the services of Cisco, this head of marketing, who comes up with a horrible tagline and the name of the drug: Gleemonex. The drug takes the world by storm. Then Chris Cooper appears on the Nina Bedford show, sort of like an Oprah-type show, and finds that neither Nina nor the audience is interested in learning about the drug, they just want to see him wiggle his hips. He enthusiastically obliges.

SPOILERS > > >
Cut to two cops sitting outside a rest stop in their squad car, and one of them says “Hey, did you see that thing on the Nina Bedford show?” and the other one’s like “Oh yeah, that thing about toast fucking?” Then one of the cops goes in to take a piss, upsetting about 50 guys having sex inside the rest stop. The one they catch is the guy we saw earlier whacking off to gay porn, and they bring him home naked to his wife. He declares loudly to all who will listen [no one] how he hates queers while standing naked on his front porch. Soon after he does the drug himself, and then follows a semi-musical sequence in which the entire neighborhood follows him joyfully down the street as he shouts “I’m gay!”

In here Chris has become somewhat of a celebrity, and he and Cisco have a funny acrimonious rivalry as they are required to almost always be together. But the party is coming to an end, as after a while people on the pill go into comas in which they just keep repeating their happiest memory. So Chris heads down into the lab, where we have a repeat of the 50 people who were having a sex party in the rest area now having had one in the lab - ? It’s funny though, and the last one to emerge is the father we saw declare his gayness, now in a tight shirt and tiny laced-up shorts. We have some brief glimpses of the wider society on Gleemonex, including parades of skinny model-types in comas and arranged smiling on floats. Anyway, the pharma company doesn’t want to cut down their profits on Gleemonex, but they do like the idea of selling another drug to people to counteract the effects of it… so they do, the end.
< < < SPOILERS END

So overall? It’s really funny. The members of Kids in the Hall are funny, and it gives quite a kick just to see them in all these different roles, and as I said, I found their portrayals of women hilarious. Perhaps bordering on misogyny, but you WILL know exactly what kind of women they are referring to. The men are portrayed as idiots as well, but since we don’t have women playing men it doesn’t stand out as much.

I really liked the dark edge to much of the humor and the social critique. The satire of big pharma [which may not be too far off, the more we find out about big pharma], the exposure of nastiness and callousness between people, and the vision of a society desperately in need of a drug to ward off overwhelming depression… okay, so maybe it’s not even a satire. What I really wanted to see was the larger effects of this drug taking hold in society, and that’s what you don’t get. I assume the film just didn’t have the budget, so you just keep seeing more of the scientists when you want to see more like the comatose models arranged on floats.

But overall, fuckin’ hilarious.

Should you watch it: 

Yupper.