Paramount // 1996 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 23rd, 2002
Shove this up your mind.
Lorne Michaels sure was busy during the early 1990s. Aside of being in charge of the legendary (if not always funny) Saturday Night Live TV show, Michaels was also helming movie spin offs from the show (Wayne's World, The Coneheads) as well as producing five Canadian comics who had a cult sketch show hit on Canadian television. Their name: The Kids in the Hall. The group was comprised of five talented funny men, including David Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald, and Mark McKinney. Each actor brought their own sense of skewered humor (and, most usually, a dress and bra) to their feature film debut Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy which is now available on DVD care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Everyone has gone though a mild case of the blues once in their lives. But some folks on our planet suffer from sever cases of depression. This is where Dr. Chris Cooper (McDonald) comes in: he's been working on a drug to cure people with a manic case of the blahs. Cooper and his co-scientists (including McKinney, Thompson, and a female McCulloch) have come up with a new cure-all drug called Gleemonex, which when swallowed allows the patient to relive their happiest moment over and over and over...and over again. Hello happiness, goodbye sadness! Of course, the drug needs more testing to be proven safe, though this doesn't stand in the say of CEO Don Roritor (McKinney) and his sniveling assistant (Foley) from marketing the miracle drug and reaping enormous profits off of the public's addiction to Gleemonex. Things are going swell for Cooper and his new invention until the early test subject start slipping into comas of happiness from which there may never be a return...
I re-watched Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy only a few scant days after seeing Broken Lizard's Super Troopers. I was surprised at the differences between the two films that starred comedy troupes -- while Super Troopers falls mostly flat, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is a riotous comedy that is miles above Broken Lizard's uninspired lunacy.
The plot in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is inconsequential; the fun comes from watching each actor meld into what seems to be about a hundred roles apiece. Men, women, children, homosexuals, doctors, drunkards, CEOs...no one is spared from the Kids' wicked sense of the absurd. The writing here (unlike Super Troopers) is sharp and perceptive. Not content to rely solely on sight gags and physical shtick, the Kids in the Hall seem to have a funny ear when it comes to humorous and often bizarre dialogue.
As for the Kids themselves, I've done a little breakdown of each actor with his strengths, weaknesses, and what makes them so funny:
* Dave Foley:
Strengths: deadpan delivery of even the most trite dialogue. Plays frustration as well as anyone in Hollywood. Foley's characters can be either subdued or over-the-top, making him a key player in the Kid's repertoire. Weakness: Foley was the only Kid who didn't participate in the writing of the film and it shows -- his characters don't seem to be on-screen as often. Why he's so funny: Anytime Foley stumbles on-screen with a mustache on his baby face, it's a hoot.
* Scott Thompson:
Strengths: Hands down the funniest gay actor working in Hollywood today (Sean Hayes is a close second). Thompson never feels the need to hide nor shelter his homosexual nature. Quite possibly the funniest Kid in drag with hysterical sounding voices to boot. Weakness: Quite possibly the ugliest Kid in drag. Why he's so funny: 'Cause he's gay and proud of it!
* Bruce McCulloch:
Strengths: Playing females seems to be his strong suit. Often gets the ticks and nuances of the opposite gender down to a tee. Cancer Boy is tasteless but funny. Weakness: Other characters are funny but sometimes over the top. The weakest link in the group. Why he's so funny: Mostly because he's got a good troupe around him.
* Mark McKinney:
Strengths: His dead-on impression of a CEO buffoon (who some say mirrors Lorne Michaels) is one of the best things about the film. Is often able to play geeky characters, jackasses, and pompous idiots on a moment's notice. Weakness: That whole transfer to SNL was just a baaaaaad idea. Why he's so funny: He's the best chameleon of the group!
* Kevin McDonald:
Strengths: My personal favorite Kid in the group, McDonald's stare makes him appear as if he's either A.) on drugs, B.) spaced out, or C.) from another planet. Bizarrely baffled, lost for words and nervous laughter best suit McDonald's brand of humor. Just one of those guys who's funny no matter what he's doing. Weakness: When in drag McDonald is the creepiest of all the Kids. Why he's so funny: That hair! Those glasses! That stare! Bravo!!
This movie is goofy fun, plain and simple. I enjoyed small characters, like the father (Thompson) who's homosexual yet he's the only one who doesn't realize it, and McKinney's dorky lab technician. There's a great gag involving a parody of '50s musicals where everyone dances in the street to a tune not unlike something from South Pacific (except dirtier). It's cute, non-sequitur moments like these that make Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy a delightful little 8 on my laugh meter.
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While this isn't a most impressive disc, the image quality for the film looks above average. A few noticeable spots of edge enhancement pop up from time to time, though otherwise this is a clean looking transfer with sharp colors and dark black levels. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. I was more than impressed with this little 5.1 soundtrack that could. There are some neat moments of surround sound used during a few sequences while all of the dialogue, effects, and music are crystal clear. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
As for extra features...you don't get squat. And that's no laughing matter.
The movie is great fun, though Paramount's work on this disc is not -- without even a single supplement, this is a hard buy at over twenty bucks. Recommended as a rental for the curious and a purchase for die-hard fans only.
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is insane...and free to go! Paramount is slapped with a fine for including nada extras on the disc.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R