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Return of the reprobates

High times of the Trailer Park Boys rooted in classic cinema

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If you see enough movies, you start to recognize old tropes in unexpected new places.

So it is for Trailer Park Boys 3: Don't Legalize It, the third feature film spawned by the Canadian cult TV series examining the underside of life from the perspective of the sketchy denizens of the Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, N.S.

One should expect the usual illegal behaviour from Sunnyvale's lovable reprobates Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, yet each of the individual journeys of these characters echo in the annals of film history. The guys spoke to us by phone during a Toronto press junket for the film. Each offered their own perspectives of the older, classier movies by which they may or may not have been inspired.


Ricky: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

When Ricky (Robb Wells) learns of Ottawa's plans to legalize marijuana, he comes to the horrible realization that his own grow-op is at risk of cataclysmic financial failure. So he resolves to travel to Ottawa to testify at a hearing against legalization. Like Jimmy Stewart's passionate congressman Jefferson Smith, Ricky uses fiery rhetoric to right wrongs.


Does the analogy hold water?

Nope. It's doubtful Ricky has ever seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He certainly doesn't enter the arena of government armed for a battle of wits.

"I didn't even know certain things in the government happened," Ricky says over the conference call, acknowledging his inspiration may not have been the product of civic-minded passion.

"I don't know if it was me getting smarter or just the strain of weed I was smoking at the time."


Then again...

Maybe the movie that inspired Ricky's plotline was The Fast and the Furious. He's certainly furious at the notion of losing his illicit livelihood. And he's fast, too, or at least as fast as you can be when your decrepit Lincoln Continental's transmission is permanently stuck in reverse. Ricky is uncharacteristically modest about the fact that he drives faster in "R" than most people drive in "D," and without any special training.

"I guess you just get used to it, but it was challenging," he says. "Especially in that piece of sh--."


Julian: Fatal Attraction

Julian (Jean Paul Tremblay), on the outs with perennial partner Ricky, goes it alone on a scheme to harvest untainted urine from a military facility and sell it on the black market to anyone who needs drug-free pee for court-mandated drug tests. Unfortunately for him, the lovelorn Mr. Lahey (John Dunsmore) is on his tail with his paunchy boy-toy Randy (Patrick Roach) in tow. Like Glenn Close's vengeful spurned lover in Fatal Attraction, Mr. Lahey will stop at nothing to destroy the object of his obsessive affection, even if that means planting cocaine on the underside of his car.


Does the analogy hold water?

It might, if Julian had ever seen Fatal Attraction. Apparently, he has not. When Ricky refers to the scene in which Close boils a pet bunny, Julian is taken aback. "Whaddya mean, cook my rabbit?" he says. "I don't even like rabbit."


Then again:

Maybe Ricky's plot thread more closely resembles another '80s Michael Douglas movie, Wall Street, about a financial wheeler-dealer brought low by his own hubris. Certainly, Julian is chastened by his disastrous experience in the illicit urine trade.

"It was a stupid move," he says. "I thought piss was a gold mine, but piss is just piss. I'm never dealing with piss again."


Bubbles: The Incredible Journey

When Bubbles (Mike Smith) learns his parents have died, he prepares for a road trip to find his legacy. Since Bubbles is a cat lover, one can't help recall the classic Disney movie about a cat and two dogs that make a cross-country journey to reunite with their family, albeit without the benefit of booze, pot and beef jerky.


Does the analogy hold water?

At least Bubbles knows the film.

"I have seen that movie. It's fantastic," he says. But he is non-committal about how his own journey home resembles the Disney movie. And he can't really name a more suitable inspiration for his storyline.

"Maybe Fresh Prince of Bel Air?"


Then again:

Perhaps the truer analogy is the martial arts movie The Grandmaster. Bubbles, it emerges, is a master of a very specific form of combat: throwing liquor bottles at one's enemy. A spectacular fight scene featuring that form of engagement between Bubbles and Mr. Leahy constitutes the action climax of Don't Legalize It.

"I've been in my share of liquor bottle fights, believe me," Bubbles says. "I used to go to the Legion every Friday night and get in a bottle fight."

Any advice from sensei Bubbles?

"You really need to focus. Keep your head on a swivel, and never take your eye off the guy who's throwin' and just fire as many as you can get out," he says.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2014 C1

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