Corner Gas: The Movie

By Tim McEown

Mailed on December 05, 2014


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Dear Brent Butt
Executive Producer

Dear Brent,

Executive producers are usually one of two things: a dude or dudette with a bag full of money and lots of notes (often about the necessity of giant spiders), or someone spiritually invested in the project. I absolutely believe you are more the latter than the former.

This is obviously a labor of love for you. A project that you care deeply about. The affection among the returning cast and the sheer exuberance of the performances are impossible to deny. And if good intentions and a willingness to mug endlessly for the camera are enough to bring to life a film that feels like it was based from a rejected Gilligan’s Island spec script, I would happily accept it.

I’m old enough to have watched a lot of two camera sitcoms during the 70s and 80s. You must remember them as well, because Corner Gas: The Movie feels like one of those “very special episodes” that often portended the cancellation of one of those shows. And no amount of crane shots or wide angle fades of Saskatchewan sunsets will change that.

You know the episodes I’m talking about. The ones where little Kirk Cameron discovers he’s just a bit different than everyone else, or where Todd Bridges is confronted with – and defeats! – the demons of drug abuse. That kind of thing.

This movie runs for ninety minutes, though it might have been put to better use as the last three episodes of your long running series. When your oft-repeated cultural reference is Ted Danson – even when the anachronism of that reference is ostensibly the joke – you should realize that the well you’re plumbing has run pretty dry.

Also – this is going to read as bitchy – but for the love of God if you’re shooting in HD in mid-summer Saskatchewan sunlight, please no close-ups. Even watching on my computer monitor, I was horrified. I can’t imagine what it would look like on the big screen.

Even though one of the few redeeming features of the series is that everyone is, to put it politely, one of us – Brangelina need not apply – combining poor cinematography with layers of stage makeup that looks like it was intended for a red carpet and not for unforgiving natural light actually made me turn away from the screen a couple of times.

There’s a reason it is called magic hour.

Some things just don’t translate. Some TV shows were meant for the small screen and nothing else. I don’t doubt that the whole cast and crew are charming, funny people, but none of that is evident in this big screen version.

I’d very much like my ninety minutes back. Or you could just send me the grant money set aside for Corner Gas: The Movie 2 and I’ll make a doc about grain elevators—which, sensibly, I’ll only shoot only between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30 pm.

Sincerely,

Tim

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