“It Doesn’t Take Rocket Appliances.”
I became a fan of Trailer Park Boys at a time, 2007 to be exact, when I didn’t watch a lot of television. I had pretty much written off comedy in particular, and the only shows I really followed were The Shield and South Park. Television’s (supposed) golden age was just beginning but I could have cared less about most everything that was aired. One of my friends made me watch an episode of Trailer Park Boys and I didn’t know what to make of it. It appeared to be a show about Canadian rednecks that cussed a lot, got high, and committed petty theft. There was a guy with big glasses, another guy that looked like a greaser, and a guy in track pants with a pompadour. It didn’t make much of an impression on me, or so I thought, and I just shrugged and moved on.
Fast forward about six months and something reminded me of the show. I guess I was in an exploratory mood so I looked up some clips on YouTube and was amazed. Not only were these clips amusing; they were funnier than anything I had viewed in a long time. I got in touch with my friend who had introduced them to me and asked if he had any of the seasons? He said that he didn’t, but that he would get a copy. Within a week or so I had all of the seasons (7 in all) and started watching them. Trailer Park Boys was one of the easiest shows to find for download at that point. All the episodes were available for streaming, which was a big deal in the infancy of Netflix as an internet presence, and the seasons were short. I watched all seven within a couple of weeks. I was hooked.
I will definitely say that Trailer Park Boys is not for everyone. It is crass, rude, and crude, but the characters are strangely endearing, and it truly is one of the most consistently funny shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Just like anything else it has had a hiccup or two (the first movie panders a bit too much to an American audience) but it always remained faithful to the three characters at the heart of the story. Ricky (Robb Wells), Julian (John Paul Tremblay), and Bubbles (Mike Smith) have such great chemistry with each other and the supporting cast are one of the best ensembles in recent memory.
Trailer Park Boys: Countdown To Liquor Day, which was released in 2009, was meant to be the franchise swan song. And what a song it was. Continuing on from 2008’s stand-alone special Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys, it was a send-off that suited the show. Everything in it’s right place (in this case, jail, then out again) and Mr. Lahey (John Dunsworth) drunk as f∗©k on a tropical island. As much as it pained me to know it was the end of Trailer Park Boys, it at least went out on a worthy note.
So I was a bit perplexed when I caught wind earlier this year that not only was there going to be another movie, but at least two more seasons of the show. Mike Clattenburg, who up to this point had directed every episode and the first two movies, was going to direct the third film and that would be his final dealings with Trailer Park Boys. After the production of the film, all of the rights to the show were sold off to Wells, Tremblay, and Smith at which point they commenced production of the new seasons of the show. The film debuted on April 18th of this year in Canada, and it is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming via Amazon. I hope to be able to review season 8 at some point but as of this writing, I am only one and a half episodes in. I have watched the entirety of the third movie however, and that is the subject of the day. So without further ado, let’s get to crackin’ on Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It.
“Lahey Was My Mother’s Mating Name.”
There is definitely a sense of finality hanging over Don’t Legalize It. Obviously, due to the new seasons, it’s not the end for the characters, but it feels as if Mike Clattenburg wanted to put a final stamp on his era of Trailer Park Boys. There is a different look to the movie, very gray and wintry, and the characters all seem to be at low points in their life. This isn’t necessarily new for Trailer Park Boys, the specter of failure is a constant theme of the series, but there is a bleakness to the beginning of this one that is different.
The film opens at a wake/funeral for Ricky’s dad Ray (producer Barry Dunn). Ray had apparently been hitting the sauce too hard and died in an explosion/fire. Mr. Lahey (John Dunsworth), after showing up uninvited with Randy (Patrick Roach), expresses his distaste for Ray and is quickly kicked out of the dump where the wake is taking place.
Ricky has moved his dope growing business to the suburbs, out of the reach of Mr. Lahey and Randy, and seems to be doing pretty well for himself. Julian on the other hand, is involved in a piss selling scheme with his archrival Cyrus (Bernard Robichaud). Bubbles, meanwhile, is trying his hand at a chicken delivery service while living under J-Roc (Jonathan Torrens) and Sarah’s (Sarah Dunsworth) front porch.
The plot gets under way when Julian stops by Ricky’s to let him know that the Canadian parliament is thinking about legalizing marijuana. Ricky isn’t pleased with this news due to the fact that it could put him out of business, so he vows to go to Ottawa to protest the possible law. At the same time, Bubble’s has received a letter informing him that his estranged parents have left him a plot of land and a residence in the Canadian backwoods. Through various plot twists (the funniest of which is Rickey’s car/home, the shitmobile, only being drivable in reverse) the boys end up in a Volkswagen van headed towards Montreal/Ottawa with Randy and Mr. Lahey, who is high on the “white liquor,” following closely behind.
Wells, Smith, and Tremblay are as funny as ever. The chemistry between these three actors, along with the supporting cast around them, has always been the backbone of Trailer Park Boys and nothing has changed in the four year interim between films. Knowing that large swathes of the movies and show are improv takes only adds to the charm of these characters. Most actors, comedic or otherwise, could do themselves a favor by watching the way this cast interacts with each other.
One of my favorite things about Trailer Park Boys has always been the nonsensical side-plots, and Don’t Legalize It doesn’t disappoint. There’s Tyrone’s (Tyrone Parsons) ridiculous disguise after his escape from the halfway house; Phil’s (Richard Collins in his final role) anger at Julian for Jacob’s (Jacob Rolfe) dishonorable discharge; Tyrone’s recapture and the burning of the Dirty Burger; Randy’s Segway. Trailer Park Boys has always covered the small details so well and this installment is no different.
The only thing that seemed lacking about the movie is the central idea isn’t very well fleshed out. The scenes with Rickey and Bubbles at parliament don’t take up more than ten minutes of the movie and just seem like an afterthought. I would have been happier if the movie had just set the boys on a road trip without the legalization plot point, although Ricky’s speech to parliament is pretty damn funny, even if it doesn’t beat his speech to the court in season 3 (“he’s distraculating my case”).
“Get Two Birds Stoned At Once.”
So where does Don’t Legalize It stand-up in comparison to the other two Trailer Park Boys movies? I would put as a solid second behind Countdown To Liquor Day, although this of course could change over time. Trailer Park Boys, the show and movies, are some of my main go-to watches, so it is quite possible that Don’t Legalize It will grow in stature with me. As it stands it a very worthy entry into the canon and a nice sign-off for Mike Clattenburg and his co-producers Barry Dunn and Mike Volpe.
I hope that Tremblay, Wells, and Smith can keep the magic alive for seasons 8 and 9. The first episode is definitely promising so I look forward to having the time to check out the rest of the season. If you’ve never watched Trailer Park Boys, and don’t mind a lot of foul language, then queue it up in Netflix and start from the beginning. And watch out for the rakins.
Until next time…