Cambridge Film Festival Review: Gravytrain

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The Pitch: Police Camera Act-ing.

The Review: The beauty of film festivals is, among other things, getting the chance to see movies that otherwise would struggle to get attention. When you have a movie called “Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way Of The Tosser”, that should not only get you attention, it should also get you some good will for your follow up. Creative pairing April Mullen and Tim Doiron were responsible for “Tosser” which was more of the mockumentary style, but this falls squarely into the spoof category, full of general silliness and larger than life characters. (Indeed, in some cases they feel larger than larger-than-life.)

In theory, the plot is simple: Charles “Chuck” Gravytrain has joined the local constabulary to follow in his father’s footsteps and also in an attempt to find his father’s murderer, Jimmy The Fish. Paired up with an out of town cop with a secret in her past, Jimmy has restarted his murder spree and it’s up to Gravytrain and his partner Uma Booma to get to the bottom of things. Along the way, they encounter an increasingly odd array of supporting characters, and as Chuck and Uma attempt to uncover the truth they find themselves framed for the very murder they’re trying to solve.

Mullen directs and Doiron writes, and they’re also Uma and Chuck respectively. Mullen shows off a wide variety of one-piece outfits and Doiron has an early Jim Carrey vibe hiding behind his slightly bug-eyed expression, although without the manic intensity of an Ace Ventura (which is maybe no bad thing). There are a couple of big names in the cast; Colin Mochrie will be familiar to viewers of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” from both sides of the Atlantic, but the standout in the supporting cast (no, scratch that, in the cast) is Tim Meadows, the SNL alumnus enlivening every scene he’s in, which sadly for the viewer isn’t enough of them.

What emerges is not quite a curate’s egg of a movie, but isn’t far off. There’s lots of little humourous touches and bright moments, but there’s as much which falls flat and leads you to question the sanity of those involved for leaving it in the edit. The redeeming factor is the ending, which is by far the most well structured section of the movie, although I’d not go as far as to say it makes sense of all that precedes it. The overall impression may be middling at best, but those glimmers of quality and inspiration leave you wondering what Mullen and Doiron might be capable of under the right circumstances. An intriguing mish-mash, but also an acquired taste.

Why see it at the cinema: Apparently only the third movie shot in Canada on the Red One digital camera, also used for Ché, District 9 and The Social Network, Gravytrain is visually stunning, especially in the black and white tones of the opening flashback. See it on the big screen if you’re seeing it anywhere.

The Score: 5/10

One thought on “Cambridge Film Festival Review: Gravytrain

    […] Having been in 2009 with Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way Of The Tosser and a year later with Gravytrain, they were back (sadly not this time in person) with their third film, and where Gravytrain had […]

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