GravyTrain would have been an adorable half-hour comedy special or a decent film-grad project. How it became a feature film is a mystery ó but it may have something to do with Canadian cultural notions.
GravyTrain is a mystery and a love story, besides being a spoof of every bad TV show you ever saw in the 1970s. In that single element, the film is genius, with all the jumpsuits, awful colours, ludicrous action scenes and flying graphics imaginable. Itís like Starsky and Hutch in a head-on crash with The Monkees, and itís demented. But the joke fades fast.
In GravyTrain, a cop named Chuck GravyTrain (Tim Doiron) pursues the Jimmy Fish Eyes, a killer who stalks the populace of tiny Gypsy Creek. Truth and justice are the guideposts in Chuckís life; those words are even on the badge he got from his late father, a victim of Jimmy Fish Eyes.
Chuck has a new police partner in Uma Booma (April Mullen, who also directed), who is smart and pretty, and has a dark mystery in her past. She and Chuck quickly stumble upon yet another one of Jimmy Fish Eyesí victims.
The town of Gypsy Creek has a police chief (A.C. Peterson) and a silly sex-crazed mayor named Chester Chubbins (Colin Mochrie), but the real power in the town belongs to the local madam, Harriette Handlescock (Jennifer Dale).
Oh, go ahead ó say the names out loud.
Harriette keeps a bawdy house and talks to portraits of her mom and grandmother, so you can tell she has a lot on her mind.
The town also boasts Tim Meadows in the role of philosophical bartender Full Serve and Ryan Tilley as filmmaker Hansel Suppledick, who is either an artist or an inadvertent snuff creator. Hanselís truly pathetic filmmaking abilities allow GravyTrain to include a clever little movie within a movie (in black and white), but here too, the joke wears thin fast. A lot of the humour in the movie concerns acting and filmmaking; itís as if the troupe forgot there was going to be an audience for this thing.
As the story unfolds, the search for Jimmy Fish Eyes makes everyone a suspect. The bodies pile up, and of course, love begins to blossom between Chuck and Uma. Watch for plenty of betrayal, toilet humour and hammy acting. And sprinkled among the bad fashion and clumsy action sequences are such í70s dialogue gems as, ďTime to make a peanut butter and justice sandwich.Ē
Before you know it, the real killer has been revealed.
GravyTrain is a cute idea, but it should never have been a movie. Itís a no-budget indie outing shot in a matter of days in Niagara Falls ó and while technically interesting, a worthy feature it ainít.
This doesnít mean we wonít be watching for whatever Tim Doiron and April Mullen do next.
(This film is rated 14A)