Thursday November 27, 2014

Corner Gas: Beaut or bust?


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: What do you think about Brent Butt making a Corner Gas movie?

Low expectations

So, a Corner Gas movie, eh?

A beloved sitcom becomes a disaster on the big screen.

Don’t get me wrong, I really want this to work. Corner Gas is one of my favourite sitcoms of all time and I’m not just talking Canadian sitcoms.

And I really like Brent Butt. He is a great standup comedian, personable, self-deprecating, clean and just outright funny.

Unfortunately, history is not in his favour when it comes to translating small-screen success to the big screen. I could not think of a sitcom-to-film transition that was not disappointing. Get Smart—not the original 1980 spinoff The Nude Bomb, which was simply a bomb, but the more recent Steve Carrell vehicle—comes about as close as any.

It has worked the other way around. M*A*S*H was a brilliant movie turned into arguably the best TV sitcom of all time.

I think the difficulty lies mainly with the format. The best sitcoms are usually a series of snapshots of the commonplace and mundane, littered with snappy one-liners and ridiculous situations easily sustained and resolved in a 22-minute episode.

A feature film of 90 minutes or more usually has to an overarching and coherent narrative to hold it together. That narrative, Butt has hinted, will be that of a small town struggling to survive.

I have not seen Butt’s first feature film No Clue (it was supposed to be released to DVD yesterday), but it received lukewarm reviews and the quick transition from theatres to DVD is also not a great sign.

I will go see Corner Gas, the movie, or get the DVD when it is released out of loyalty. Perhaps the fact my expectations are low, will leave me pleasantly surprised.

— Thom Barker

Can’t wait

When they announced that Brent Butt and the rest of the Corner Gas crew were getting together to make a Corner Gas movie I admit that I was ecstatic.

For years Corner Gas had been my favourite television show and to see it end was nearly heartbreaking.

But now it’s back in movie form and it’s time to celebrate with a hoedown or a hootenanny or something of the sort.

When I was living in London, England, I actually used the Corner Gas show as an example of small town Saskatchewan life. Whenever someone asked me what Saskatchewan was like, I’d gather them around the computer, go on Youtube and show them a couple episodes of Corner Gas (every single episode is loaded into the Corner Gas official Youtube page for your personal viewing pleasure by the way).

I have to admit, I was expecting a Corner Gas movie at some point and time. There were rumours of it years ago, but now it has finally been approved and it’s proof that there is a greater power (he just happens to have an enormous head and the last name of a rear end).

I just cannot wait for this movie.

And to spit on the floor when Woolerton (ptooey) is mentioned.

— Randy Brenzen

Not excited

Corner Gas is getting a movie.

Somehow this event is being viewed as one of the biggest things in Saskatchewan in ages.

The movie has even managed to pry $2 million from our provincial government, the same government that tossed the entire film industry into disarray by cutting out the film tax credit a couple of years back.

Of course the government would have been left rather red-faced had the movie been made elsewhere, since the Corner Gas franchise has its roots in the Saskatchewan-filmed TV series.

I wonder if the government would ante up funds for a ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’ a TV series which was at least the equal of Corner Gas, and frankly more topical of the era. But that is a question for another day.

The series was folksy, had its fair share of recognizable humour based on our Saskatchewan-foibles.

And a movie will be interesting, although it is likely to ultimately disappoint. What carried the show through 22-minutes in series form will not easily be expanded to feature length film.

The Red Green show was funny in half-hour form, the ensuing movie was awful.

I expect a similar fate with Corner Gas.

And then there is the fact if it’s a full-length film, and that should mean a chance to see it on the big screen. Few Canadian films manage theatrical releases, even the break-out hits such as ‘Men With Brooms’.

Saskatchewan made movies such as 13 Eerie, 45 RPM, and Rufus have not managed wide theatre releases, or even the currently highly-hyped WolfCop, which is at least in limited release.

Corner Gas will have a network TV release based on the former series, but sadly we won’t be watching it in theatres, which only illustrates a flaw in how we view our own films.

So while I’ll no doubt watch the film once done, I have to say my level of excitement is rather restrained.

— Calvin Daniels



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