By: Addison Wylie
It’s no competition that Kenny vs. Spenny – whether you like it or not – has become a staple in Canadian pop culture.
Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice’s reality television show featured the buddies going toe-to-toe with each other in various matches such as Who Can Win a Ten Mile Race and Who Can Stay in a Haunted House the Longest. However, as the competitions became increasingly irreverent and Hotz’s strategies more torturous to his mensch sidekick, the pair’s cult following grew as stakes got riskier with episodes such as Who Can Drink More Beer and Who Can Get Further With The Other Guy’s Mom. It was a classic case of Schadenfreude.
The show’s been off the air for over three years, and the men have spun off to do their own side projects; leaving Kenny vs. Spenny to settle.
The high demand of a comeback may be what started the inception of an on-the-road reunion. Hotz and Rice are teaming up to hit various parts of Canada and hold Q&As, screen segments from the show, and hand out autographs.
Jamie Tiernay, who worked on Kenny vs. Spenny as a crew member on Kenny’s side of the show, has started a Kickstarter campaign to accumulate funds to make a documentary about the tour.
Learn more below:
The Kenny vs. Spenny On The Road Tour Documentary Kickstarter Campaign is about documenting these two cult legends on their KVS tour across Canada.
Having worked with Kenny and Spenny for over 10 years I’ve convinced them to give me unrestricted access to the tour, themselves and the final cut! I’m going to be poking, prodding, manipulating and uncovering shit you couldn’t even imagine in your wildest wet KVS dreams. A road trip tour friendship extravaganza with dick jokes, fart jokes, drunken nights, insane fans, hot fans, dumb fans and shit that’ll make you pee your pants.
With this $46,000 campaign goal we’ll be able to shoot the whole west coast tour, edit and deliver a pretty kick ass film BUT there’s more tour locations and dates to come this year. So if we PASS OUR GOAL it’ll let us shoot more tours, more insanity and give more editing time to make this the most insane Kenny vs. Spenny documentary film ever!
Visit Jamie Tiernay’s Kickstarter page for more details.
My Two Cents:
Tiernay’s documentary sounds and looks promising, but $46,000 sounds like an inflated random number. However, I trust Tiernay, who obviously has the best intentions for his film and clearly knows how to handle these types of projects. After all, equipment rentals, transportation, and accommodations do add up rather quickly.
I hope the doc doesn’t take on usual road movie and concert film tropes these projects tend to helplessly accept (see: Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland and any live event featuring a member of the Jackass crew). Tiernay’s brief video preview featured enough farting around to make me weary.
But, Tiernay also appears to be focused on the love/hate friendship between Hotz and Rice. As a possible investor, this is a hopeful opportunity that could potentially propel the film in a surprising direction. This could shed more of a natural light onto these two performers.
I wish Jamie Tiernay luck with his upcoming film. It should, at the very least, act as that proper fix for Kenny vs. Spenny diehards.
All italicized statements regarding Kenny vs. Spenny: On The Road are provided from their respected crowdfunding sources. Wylie Writes is not responsible for funds attached to these productions and we do not hold any accountability.
This project is that of the filmmaker’s. Use your own discretion.
Solo starts out on an “A” game, but ends up finishing with a generous “C” grade.
Isaac Cravit’s independent thriller is a straight-up campfire story – and, the filmmaker knows it. Gillian (played by former Degrassi: The Next Generation co-star Annie Clark) needs to prove herself to be a capable camp counsellor in order to obtain a summer job. The newbie needs to pull a “solo”, a two-night experience on a secluded island that will test her survival skills.
Cravit, directing and writing his first feature film, is having a lot of fun playing with the conventions of a campfire horror. The filmmaker even has fellow councillors telling Gillian rumours of haunted activity that took place on the island before she embarks on her trip.
These moments don’t feel like Cravit is pushing too hard for the audience to recognize what the film is trying to be and he sticks his landing well with these scenes of eerie dialogue.
When Gillian arrives at the island and is forced to investigate mysteries in the woods at night, Cravit nails the creepiness. As the camera slowly moves around a freaked out Clark, we can’t help but get sweaty palms as we feel ourselves growing more anxious. What’s better is that there aren’t too many of these moments, making these quiet pressure cookers enunciate strongly when they happen.
Cravit is also having a ball throwing red herrings at his audience, including possible antagonists that may have more to do with the island’s history than we realize.
Solo reveals more, including what’s overlooking Gillian. The routes the film travels on is all a matter of subjectivity. I watched Solo with my wife, who enjoyed where Cravit took his scary movie. I, on the other hand, thought these decisions made the film less effectively stimulating and increasingly mundane.
Without spoiling the main course, Cravit’s screenplay makes the right choice to make delirium the main evil in Solo. The problem is – for me, at least – he chooses the wrong type of crazy. Solo would’ve been better off as something more psychological than being so literal.
Solo is typical enough to get by. Some gory effects towards the end are appreciated and certainly help matters tonal wise. But, part of the joy of watching these smaller scale horrors/thrillers is finding steady specialties that make movie goers gush to others about the film – resulting in consecutive views. I just didn’t get that with Solo.
Seen as a brave folk hero to some and a menacing nuisance to others, teenager Colton Harris-Moore outran police forces, bounty hunters, and watch dogs for nearly three years. He hitched rides, stole money, and was infamously known for stealing airplanes and crashing them on new islands to loot.
Fly Colt Fly marks the first feature-length movie from Andrew and Adam Gray and their documentary is out to chronicle Harris-Moore’s fugitive escapades through various formats. They use animation, live-action reenactments, and actual security footage to thread this retelling of the elusive “Barefoot Bandit”.
These switches in storytelling make Fly Colt Fly consistently captivating albeit a bit long in the tooth. The portions that have been furiously animated are appropriate since the events sound as if they’ve been lifted from a Saturday morning cartoon.
Fly Colt Fly is a docudrama geared towards a teenage crowd. Think A&E junior. The shape the doc takes is ultimately why it stands on its own legs, but also why it may segregate its viewers.
On one hand, Fly Colt Fly is always moving and baffling us with Colton’s anti-hero traits. It provides interviews, but doesn’t feel like another doc featuring “talking heads”. The filmmakers’ accessible debut is for a younger crowd who may have been having a hard time generating excitement for documentaries. The filmmakers deliver its content with fitting zest, making this a great example for that specific crowd. It shows clearly what the genre can provide.
On the other side of the spectrum are older movie goers, who are gong to think the story is interesting but also find a fair amount of the filmmaking to be hokey. It doesn’t gel for more doc-savvy high school graduates.
Live-action reenactments are very hard to pull off. In the case of Fly Colt Fly, Andrew and Adam have tried to replicate a video game feel to their shots. The camera often establishes environments by levitating behind “Colton”. The actor is always in a stance that suggests he’s ready to play. Older audience members are going to understand what the duo are going for, but are going to find they overkill the concept after the first couple of shots.
The animation is slick, but there’s no way of shaking the fact that it looks like a hyper episode of Carmen Sandiego. Perhaps that was the point, but it’s hard to build an emotional connection to these jagged, stylistic pictures. It’s a style that’s tailor made for a certain age group, which leaves the rest of us outside.
The filmmaking duo have a small amount of material to humanize a mysterious guy like Colton, but they attempt to do so through interviews with his mother, cohorts, and victims. The people who have a close bond with Harris-Moore hold back but offer thought-provoking suggestions about what made Colton tick.
Other friends offer insight that’s not as easy to buy; such as the explanation describing Colton’s burglaries as a troubled individual getting a feel for how a normal family lives. There’s too much stolen merchandise to believe this claim. Even if you remain skeptical, the brothers’ directorial open door policy to different theories is appreciative and shows they’ll look at a subject from all angles.
Adults will find most of the Gray brothers’ pizazz to be corny, but if you’re between the ages of 12 and 16, you’re going to think the Gray brothers put together a pretty cool movie. Though the film’s presentation won’t win everyone over, the story behind Fly Colt Fly is universally fascinating.
Every so often, a movie comes along and upsets me heavily with how it wastes prime opportunities. February has slung that film at me and it’s called Sex After Kids, a Canadian independent comedy helped out with a successful IndieGoGo campaign.
The only thing that stops me from getting really angry at Sex After Kids is that there is not a mean bone in its body. Filmmaker Jeremy Lalonde has truly tried to make a relatable movie about relationships (six of them, to be exact. All tied to each other in a Garry Marshall fashion) and the intimacy set backs that occur when kids are brought into the picture. He’d also love to make his audience keel over with unbarred hilarity.
There are concepts in Sex After Kids that are honest and could’ve genuinely led to organic emotions and laughs. Not all of them take off because Lalonde hasn’t spent enough time fleshing some of these out (a married bartender who’s tempted at work by a younger, flirty waitress who hands him risqué pictures, a desperate single mom who looks towards perversions to find love), but there are a few sub-stories within the film that have lots of potential.
Take the situation involving an older married couple who have said “goodbye” to their daughter as she tackles life by herself. Horton (played by Jay Brazeau) wants to invite sex back into the aging relationship, but Dolores (played by Mimi Kuzyk) wants to welcome it in with an adventurous bang (mind the pun) which freaks out Horton.
There’s also a story involving a successful husband (played by Peter Keleghan) and his wife, a former model turned housewife (played by Amanda Brugel). While she shows commitment to the relationship, he realizes that his affection was merely based on looks. He’s falling out of love because she dresses down and is frequently in shambles.
Lalonde takes these premises and dulls them down using the broadest of comedy while directing the scenes as if they were community theatre sketches. Poorly rehearsed ones at that.
The side story about the older parents is reduced to a load of jokes that result in punchlines that are only supposed to be funny because the characters are old. Instead of wittiness involving another generation trying to figure out modern day kink, Lalonde would rather have obtuse reacting and Brazeau’s bare backside generate the funnies.
The pluckiness among these troubled parents is too strong and pushed beyond comedic comprehension, while being accompanied with the “quirkiest” background music you’ll ever hear.
The title children are all used as props to get our characters from point A to B within their personal flimsy arcs. Whenever the children are acknowledged, it’s to point out how much of an inconvenience they are. You see a lot of kids being nurtured, but the audience never gets the impression that anyone really loves their children.
This also opens scenes up for chances to use baby sound effects. So, the audience has to struggle to hear the impersonal dialogue over the sound of a whaling toddler. It’s funny ’cause it’s true?
Gordon Pinsent shows up every so often to convince you to stay in your seat. Pinsent isn’t flexing his acting muscles too much, but I’ll take it. He’s always a pleasure to watch on screen. His persona is what generates minor snickers during a private therapy session with sexless couple Jules and Ben (played by Shannon Beckner and Ennis Esmer).
Otherwise, Sex After Kids is virtually charmless, lending minimal insight into what it takes to muster through the terrible twos and find time to be private with your loved one. With Sex After Kids finding its way into Toronto’s Carlton Cinema around Valentine’s Day, this night out at the movies will provide as much romance as a musty motel with stained sheets and thin walls.
More importantly though, Sex After Kids is the ultimate birth control. Forget condoms and the morning after pill. After you watch this staggering flick, you won’t want to have children or even start a relationship. You’ll want to grow a beard and live in the mountains.
It’s appropriate that If I Were You’s climax includes a theatrical production because Joan Carr-Wiggin’s film is a full-on farce that would play well on stage.
When I say “farce”, I mean a comedy of errors set at Defcon 4. This is the type of film where someone ties a noose around their neck with full intentions to hang themselves, only to forget about the rope until they try and walk to somewhere else in the room. You get my point?
If I Were You shouldn’t work for as long as it does. Usually when a movie is acting out as being THIS broadly theatrical, the transition to the silver screen doesn’t hold up. Fortunately for Carr-Wiggin, she has two skilled performers manning the leading roles.
Leonor Watling plays Lucy, a ditzy temptress who has lured a married man away from his wife. Marcia Gay Harden plays Madelyn, the very cheated on tepid woman. The catch is after an outrageous coincidence, Lucy and Madelyn have found themselves crossing paths. Madelyn knows who Lucy is, but Lucy is oblivious to who Madelyn really is.
After more outrageousness, the two create a type of double act chemistry while agreeing to make the other person’s decisions. Lucy can’t get enough of her new best friend, and Madelyn will do anything to separate her husband from this floozy.
After that brief rundown, let me repeat, this should not work. Joan Carr-Wiggin’s film, however, is that exception that had me giggling with Lucy’s confusion and Harden’s deadpan readings. Secrets are unknowingly leaked consistently changing the mood of a scene, but Carr-Wiggin always keeps the foolishness in mind. There’s real emotion behind Harden’s covered up broken heart, but true silliness in how she presents her hidden identity from her new “friend”.
This premise is stretched as far as it can go – and then some. Numerous situations would be solved in an instant if one of these characters were to drop everything and spill the beans, but then there wouldn’t be a movie. It asks the viewer to leave common sense at the door, and watch a goofy snowball effect take place. If you can go with the film’s logic, you’ll find yourself having as good of a time I was having for the first hour of If I Were You.
Even then though, Carr-Wiggin adds too many characters into the mix with results not faring as well as they did when the farce was merely involving three people. As soon as other characters and their perceptions are piled on, you can feel the juggling routine fumble at grasping this gratuitous load.
But, that added difficulty is nothing compared to the abandonment Carr-Wiggin resorts to during the film’s manipulative tonal shift when seams start becoming more apparent in Madelyn’s story.
It starts with a flubbed handling of a death, and dwindles down from there. The farcical elements are replaced by contrived devices to bring the film down to a monotone plain. It’s gutsiness is paved over to make room for a by-the-numbers romance that brings in an attractive but unpersonable love interest, lifeless blow-ups, and a big underdog showstopper that will bring together those who hate each other.
It’s just as perplexing to see If I Were You trip up as it was to see it soar. I’m still confused as to how or why Joan Carr-Wiggin found herself on a drab path when she was doing everything intelligently before she took a wrong turn at Albuquerque. It’s an important lesson for any aspiring filmmakers to see that even though you may have the right ingredients, your final dish still has the possibility of going sour.
Some movies can be summed up in one word. Katrin Bowen’s Random Acts of Romance can be summed up with a let down sigh.
It’s tough to see a movie worth rooting for bite off more than it can chew. Or, in this case, expand its focus so far that the target the film is aiming for becomes more difficult to hit.
Random Acts of Romance gets our attention with its overlapping screenplay structure. The film’s informal narrative starts telling the story of newlyweds (played by Robert Moloney and Ready or Not’s Laura Bertram), then follows an adoring but more aggressive couple (played by Zak Santiago and Amanda Tapping), and then latches onto a loudmouth living the single life (played by Ted Whittall).
Bowen along with her co-writers Jillian Mannion and Kevin McComiskie are surprisingly able to juggle all of these stories, making each of them interesting in their own ways. Save for a few moments where coincidences begin too much like too-perfect happenstances, these characters weave into other stories with ease and the audience can gel with the film’s “it’s a small world” mentality.
Bowen, Mannion, and McComiskie also prove they have strong voices when it comes to observant exchanges and humour between opposite sexes and their relationships. In the same way the crowd pleasing Canadian indie Young People F*cking did, the screenplay captures honest – occasionally crass – talks about intimacy and spontaneity.
Like that aforementioned film though, sometimes the back-and-forths get too wordy for an off-the-cuff conversation and the slight exaggerated delivery from one of the actors sneaks in. For the most part, however, the discussions have us laughing with how sincerely frank they are – which are then complimented by terrific comedic timing.
All of that dwindles, unfortunately. As a movie goer who was avidly engaged in Random Acts of Romance, watching the film try and up its own game was disheartening. It’s almost as if Katrin Bowen was worried her film was going to be just another brick in the romantic comedy wall and in order to make her work stand out, she had to insert a bizarre brand of quirk.
The direct stories about trying to figure out the crazy world of relationships slowly have a thick murky sheen applied to them. We’re supposed to embrace the tonal shift gradually, but we can’t help but reject this new approach that simply doesn’t work. More of that glaze is applied and our resisting just gets worse.
The central stories enter a ridiculous realm. A realm where stalking and kidnapping are considered endearing and thoughtful. And, yes, you read that correctly.
Of course, a lot of what Bowen throws at her audience is supposed to be darkly comedic in a weird way. We’ve seen filmmakers attempt similar mischievous play and some are actually able to pull it off because they know the distinction between what’s bad, what’s good, and where the voice of reason resides.
Bowen, on the other hand, is confused as to how she wants the proposed events to play out. But, what she is sure of is that everything must follow a path heading towards a happy ending. It’s impossible to have a happy ending when matters are this messed up and straining for giggles.
These characters who were once normal are now involved in a romantic comedy that goes for the broadest of tasteless laughs in the ickiest of situations. In all seriousness, this was one of those movies where things got so out of hand, I asked the movie out loud, “what are you doing!?”
Let’s say Random Acts of Romance is a gambler on a hot streak. Multiple rounds go by and the skilled film has been consistently dealt good hands. But, when it comes to keeping onlookers interested in the game, the gambler feels the need to chance everything and go for bigger pots.
The leaps-of-faith end up not faring well, people start to sputter off, and all you have is a scrambling discombobulate pulling all the stops to get back on their feet – only to lose all their winnings.
I’m only being hard on Katrin Bowen and her film because I saw so much potential in that first act. That risk taking attitude will benefit her career in the future, but she has to pick her moments to be gutsy. And, Random Acts of Romance was certainly not one of those times.
I didn’t like The Disappeared, but I can at least compliment its opening shots. Director Shandi Mitchell quickly establishes the nothingness that exists around a crew of lost men at sea. Mitchell generates an instantaneous sense of fear and hopelessness as the vagueness in their whereabouts and time of day effects the audience greatly.
Then, someone speaks. And, more people speak. It’s not so much speaking as it is projecting and emphasizing that these six men are rugged and have spent a long time out on the water.
This is the type of movie where the would-be chemistry feels too forced. The frightening naturalistic elements are belittled against performances that often remind us that these are actors laying on a shore man’s mentality and vernacular incredibly thick. Relationships try to establish themselves in Mitchell’s direction and her self-written screenplay, but the fake rollicking and squaring off drowns out any authenticity that could survive on this sea bound quest for survival.
From there, The Disappeared goes through the tiresome motions of a movie featuring a group of buddies and co-workers who eventually begin buckling under the gruelling conditions – all of which include mirages, a worsening injury, and short tempers. Even the film’s title is a bit of a shrug, asking the audience,”did you expect anything else?”
A couple of months ago, I reviewed an independent drama called La Pirogue which was based on a true story about a similar stranded situation. While in the same vein but not based on a direct true story, The Disappeared swings the pendulum the other way. La Pirogue was underacted, The Disappeared is overacted.
With these independent films, it seems the productions seem to be dropping the ball with the casting. I wouldn’t go as far to say the actors in The Disappeared are bad. I’m sure the Canadian on-screen talent would impress in a theatrical production in Stratford, Ontario. But here, the cast are incapable of delivering the authenticity of a life-and-death situation such as the one represented in the film – despite plopping these men in the middle of the water.
I write this review having not seen more mainstream fare that take place at sea – like, Captain Phillips and All Is Lost. Even though the leads are recognizable, perhaps it takes someone with a wide range like Tom Hanks or Robert Redford to tackle such material. Because, as it stands now with A Hijacking being the lone exception, smaller movies like La Pirogue and The Disappeared seem to be striking out.
I’ll keep on waiting for that next little-film-that-could to come around from out of the sea and wow me. For now, I have no choice but to throw The Disappeared back with the fishes.