Starring Mark Little, Kayla Lorette. Written by Andrew Bush, Mark Little, Scott Vrooman. Directed by Andrew Bush. 14A. 77 min. Opens Sept. 21.
The Comedy Network’s cancellation of Picnicface’s eponymous sketch show after one season was a cruel injustice—the Halifax troupe’s aggressively absurd and genuinely vanguard brand of funny deserved a more nurturing home. Admirers might’ve hoped Picnicface’s move to the big screen would brighten the group’s prospects. Unfortunately, Roller Town has too little of the energy and inventiveness that marked the series’ wildest moments. Instead, this goofy parody of roller-disco movies seems oddly restrained despite its many moments of top-drawer lunacy.
Picnicface co-founder Mark Little dons the tightest of tight shorts to play Leo, a roller-rink Lothario who falls hard for Julia (Kayla Lorette), a student from a prestigious rollerskating academy who’s also the daughter of their town’s disco-hating mayor. This budding romance is endangered not only by the objections of Julia’s dad and preppy ex-boyfriend, but by the gangsters who are looking to turn the rink into a video arcade.
The group’s affection for random gags and non-sequiturs means that the already loose framework of Roller Town’s plot occasionally threatens to collapse completely. That hardly matters when the bits are brilliant, like when Leo and Julia get down and dirty to the sound of a faux disco number titled “Fuck O’Clock.” A standout performer in the film’s coterie of Picnicface pals, Toronto’s Pat Thornton is terrific as an incompetent thug who’s dim enough to need instructions on
how to eat jam. But the movie’s failure to develop much momentum means that Roller Town is not the Can-com classic Picnicface may someday deliver.