DVD REVIEW: The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)

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This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVD. It is made to be played in “play only” DVD devices, and may not play in some DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD, however, played with no problems in the Toshiba DVD recorder used for this review. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.

THE SET-UP
A scientist (Kevin McDonald) invents a pill that puts people in a state of perpetual happiness, but the side effects leave much to be desired. Also stars Dave Foley, Bruce McCullough, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson.
Directed by Kelly Makin.

THE DELIVERY
Let me cut to the chase and boil down The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy into one simple observation: during the entire ninety minutes of the film, I genuinely laughed once. Just once. No, I won’t say what scene I thought was funny, as that would ruin it for you. Sure, there were some moments of amusement, which isn’t hard, as Dave Foley and company are very talented. However, their talent is painfully wasted on a contrived script that misses badly.

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The plot involves a scientist, Dr. Chris Cooper (Kevin McDonald) who develops a drug that cures depression (Gleemonex), much to the delight of his corporate bosses. Chris becomes an instant celebrity, which gives the film the chance to comment on the vanity of our celebrity-obsessed, narcissistic culture. You would think the subject matter would be a perfect fit for the talents of the cast of Kids in the Hall. You would think. 

While The Kids in the Hall television show had a knack for creating outrageous satire, the film’s satire is so forced, the humor is lifeless and uninspired. It’s outrageous, to be sure, but never really funny. With Lorne Michaels producing, we get a film more like his recent seasons of Saturday Night Live: an overly-hip, self-referential mess that never earns the laughs of the viewer; it merely expects us to laugh because these guys WERE funny once.  

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Rather than focusing on the characters in the main storyline, the film throws an assortment of odd minor characters (and even a cameo by Brendan Fraser) at us, all only marginally connected to the plot, in some desperate “shotgun” attempt at laughs. I assume they figured if they threw enough stuff at you, they could manage to hit the mark enough times to make you enjoy this picture. It doesn’t work. I’ve been told you must be a fan of the show to appreciate this film. I think real humor doesn’t make such requirements.

The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy has good production values, inventive visuals, and a decent premise. It just doesn’t have a soul, let alone genuine humor. Halfway through this film, I was wishing I had Gleemonex just to make it to the end. Once again, a winning formula for television does not translate to the big screen. 

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VIDEO AND VIDEO
The standard DVD video transfer is below average, with a muddled picture that doesn’t show much detail. Even though the print used for the transfer was mostly clean of debris, the overall image lacks any “pop.” The screenshots in thsi review were taken directly from our review copy of the film. The audio is good, sporting a strong 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, as well as a French 2.0 soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES
None.

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THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)

Movie: 3

Video: 5

Audio: 7

Extras: 1

Overall score: 4

The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is a disappointing mess, with few laughs and even less wit. Die hard fans of the show might enjoy some of the elements, but everyone else should skip it.

DVD SPECS
Release date: June 25, 2013

Running time: 88 minutes

Rating: R

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special features: None

Label: Warner Archive

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