Joshua Reviews Michael Dowse’s Fubar: Balls To The Wall [Blu-ray Review]

Festivals are truly a special portion of the overall film world.

While many may play home to otherwise bigger pictures (look at Cannes, who this year will premiere films like KUNG FU PANDA 2), but there is truly nothing quite like seeing a film that you ultimately had no idea about going into the screening.

One of those films, showing at this past SXSW Film Festival, happens to be a sequel to a cult hit, and is now available on VOD and on Blu-ray/DVD.

Fubar: Balls To The Wall is a sequel to the 2002 cult hit, which introduced the world to the loveable loser duo of Terry Cahill and Dean Murdoch.  Played by David Lawrence and Paul Spence respectively, Fubar II continues the story of Terry and Dean, who are now on their way north to start work in an oil patch, after getting hooked up with the gigs by their friend, Tron. However, nothing truly goes according to plan, and what culminates is an awkwardly paced comedy that ultimately makes good on not only the entertainment factor, but in many other aspects as well.

Inherently a comedy, the film itself is something a tad bit different.  With the style of a mockumentary, the film takes cues from the original film, but gives it a much needed, nearly decade long update, adding to both the style of the feature, as well as the themes.  A weird mixture of slapstick gags and discussions on masculinity, the film takes a narrative rife with humor, and injects an interesting soul into it as well.  Focusing on characters who have their manhood questioned from the time they wake up to the time they fall asleep, the Fubar II is an interestingly melancholy mockumentary with gags all around.

However, all would be for naught without a collection of solid performances.  Terry, played by David Lawrence, is arguably the film’s most interesting character, and also gives the film’s best performance.  Seemingly never truly at ease, the character itself is one that plays as the film’s narrative core, with his biggest arch coming after the introduction of the film’s romantic lead.  Dean, played wonderfully by Spence, is given a much different tone. Recovering from testicle cancer, Dean is an absent father, who is just looking for some sort of break to not only make his life easier, but make it one that he can live with his family. The supporting cast is also quite good, primarily both Andy Sparacino (Tron) and Terra Hazelton, who plays the strip club waitress-turned-love interest, Trish.  Both give the film a definite tone and mood, and in the case of Trish, adds a lot of depth to the film’s narrative.

Dowse, who has become something of a Hollywood filmmaker now with films like Take Me Home Tonight and the upcoming Goon, is top notch here.  The filmmaking itself is really simplistic, but it’s the ability for his camera to linger in the moment that adds a lot of emotion to an otherwise superficially hilarious comedy.  This inactive camera allows for the film’s mood to truly fester, and for that, I can’t help but thank the man.

However, not all is perfect here.  While the film itself is quite comedic, it’s not the gags that you’ll be remembering here.  The film itself seems to be incapable of allowing the narrative to simply happen, without some sort of metal-fueled comedic set-piece, ultimately giving the film an awkward feel, with regards to its pacing.  Also, this is not quite a film for everyone.  It is very much inspired by mockumentaries past, and while that style works here, it’s one that does run the risk of getting stale.  There are superfluous moments here that could have been cut to tighten the film up, so while it might work, it doesn’t make for the tightest of film watching experiences.
As far as a release goes, this one is relatively top notch.  The Blu-ray looks absolutely wonderful, with the crisp cinematography really popping here.  The sound is great, which is a bonus, because this film’s soundtrack/score is quite fantastic.  Coming packed with deleted scenes, the real winner here is the film’s commentary, which is both entertaining, and really interesting.

Overall, while the film is far from perfect, it’s really not like anything you’ll see.  A Canadian-based mockumentary, Fubar: Balls To The Wall is an emotionally deep comedy that works on both an entertainment level, and also on an intellectual one.  An intriguing look at what masculinity truly means to men, Fubar II is a film that may not be on your radar, but it should be one that finds its way to your shelf or Netflix queue.

Buy the Blu-ray from Amazon.com

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