Cottage Country an ode to violent selfishness
Starring Tyler Labine and Malin Akerman. Rated 18A.
The moderately polished Cottage Country gives perennial Canadian sidekick Tyler Labine and Swedish-born nice girl Malin Akerman a small opportunity to widen their acting range. In Labine’s case, he gets to restrain his comic chops as corporate drone Todd Chipowski, who wants to leave town so he can propose to his live-in girlfriend, Akerman’s icily manipulative Cammie.
They get a late start out to Todd’s family cottage and have a fright when their car almost hits a ragged old vagrant in the night. Veteran Canuck-movie watchers will know that when Earl Pastko shows up early in a story, trouble will follow. It comes the same night, in the form of Todd’s ne’er-do-well brother Salinger (the appropriately annoying Daniel Petronijevic), who ignored the booking schedule.
Baby bro brings a sleazy Russian girlfriend, and she’s played by Britain’s Lucy Punch, who normally can’t be not funny. Here, Punch fails to impress with torn tights and a bad accent. (Sample line: “Let’s do somesing. I’m boring!”) But the conflict is mainly between our uptight couple, with Cammie pressing Todd to get rid of the interlopers. To describe how he does this would be giving the game away, but the methods—accidental at first, then more malign—are not the stuff on which to build a healthy relationship, or even a nice vacation.
Naturally, behaviour has to be a bit exaggerated for black comedy like this to work, and some actions are a bit outsized even for the genre, as must be known by director Peter Wellington. (It’s nothing compared to Labine’s turn in 2010’s Tucker and Dale vs Evil, which was a total horror-cabin send-up.) But I must add that when certain characters turn out to be insane, it kind of undermines the satirical aspect of looking under the hood of repressed yuppiedom to see what pops out and says “Boo!” The fact that there is no one to root for in this ode to violent selfishness dampens the laughter as well.