Corner Gas: The Movie, opening Dec. 3 for a brief theatrical run, has no illusions about being, as one of its characters might mock, a fancy-pants cinematic experience.
So fans of long-running series Corner Gas will rejoice that the Canuck sitcom that put Dog River, SK on the TV map returns five years after its final episode with a big-screen version that doesn’t stray from its small-town roots.
The budget is bigger, there are a couple of reveals among the likeable cast of returning characters and for once, there’s actually a lot goin’ on. What with the municipal financial crisis, a hare-brained plan to win a quaintest town contest and the threat of a coffee franchise Goliath steamrolling everything, it’s more action than they’ve seen since, well, ever.
Directed by longtime series Helmer David Storey, Corner Gas: The Movie retains both the look and plot lines of its sitcom heritage. In truth, it often plays like a few TV episodes stitched together into 96 minutes, which doesn’t work especially well on a big screen. But I have a feeling this won’t matter to fans of the show who are dealing with Dog River withdrawal.
As when we left them, comic book-reading underachiever Brent Leroy (show creator Brent Butt) is still running the only gas station for miles, aided by wisecracking Wanda Dollard (Nancy Robertson). Cutie Lacey Burrows (Gabrielle Miller) the former big-city gal, looks after things over at The Ruby coffee shop, while Brent’s dim-bulb best pal Hank Yarbo (Fred Ewanuick) still hasn’t got much to do.
The town’s financial mess forces new realities on the Prairie burgh, including layoffs and schemes to take advantage of tough times. Meanwhile, Lacey tries to motivate the local bellyachers and naifs to work together to spruce up the town.
It’s all in the aid of a story that doesn’t stray from its proven TV formula. Why tinker? Corner Gas was watched by some 1 million Canadians weekly, with a farewell episode that tripled the audience, a record that still stands for a homegrown scripted series.
Corner Gas: The Movie may rely on Dog River yuks and the occasional hoary pratfall but it’s being rolled out with a 2014 business plan: crowd-source funding, a five-day theatrical release goosed by a 20-minute pre-show video and a cross-platform simulcast on CTV Dec. 17, the day after its DVD-Blu-ray release.
From 21 Jump Street to Red Green: Duct Tape Forever, TV shows are no strangers to multiplex second acts. Here, we get a classic comedy that’s been stretched so there’s enough time to munch a jumbo popcorn. And that will sit just right with Corner Gas-heads.