Starring Brent Butt and Gabrielle Miller. Rated G.
The gang from Corner Gas is back. The Canadian sitcom showcasing the laid-back townsfolk of Dog River, Saskatchewan, has morphed into a feature film. If you’re not familiar with the long-running TV show, it helps to imagine an openly sarcastic version of Mayberry without the stabilizing influence of a wise sheriff. Dog River’s two police officers (Lorne Cardinal and Tara Spencer-Nairn) make Barney Fife look like Dirty Harry.
The closest the town has to a respected voice of reason? Gas station proprietor Brent Leroy (Brent Butt), a man who—with his unabashed passion for comic books and chili cheese dogs—is firmly committed to minding his own business.
Brent’s world revolves around his cranky parents (Eric Peterson and Janet Wright) and a few friends. There’s Lacey (Gabrielle Miller), the well-meaning but prissy owner of the local diner. There’s Hank (Fred Ewanuick), a grown man who’s still wearing his baseball cap backward. And there’s Wanda, Brent’s wisecracking assistant (Nancy Robertson).
Fans of the series will be glad to know that all the familiar faces are present for the big-screen update. The catchy theme song, which urges you to reconsider whether “there’s not a lot going on” in Dog River, gets a lot of play. The big question: is there actually enough going on to sustain a two-hour movie?
The answer depends on how much you appreciate the original show. Director David Story, who shot over 40 episodes for TV, seems content to let things unfold as if he were simply stringing together four consecutive episodes of the series. Cowritten by Butt, the screenplay features tidy, interlocking subplots that could just as easily be broken down into half-hour installments. It feels a lot like binge-watching the series on DVD.
There’s a story of sorts. The mayor (Cavan Cunningham) has bankrupted the municipal coffers by investing in Detroit real estate. Will the citizens of Dog River band together to save the town from ruin?
Bottom line? The movie is content to deliver the same wry, low-key humour as the series. If you’re into revisiting for a couple of hours, you’ll get exactly what you expect.