‘FUBAR: Balls to the Wall’

Looking at the poster for “FUBAR: Balls To The Wall,” it instantly reminds us all of “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Anvil,” and lord only knows how many other mockumentaries or legitimate documentaries that people know best. Going into this movie, I knew I would not be seeing anything particularly original. I guess the best I could hope for was a fun time and some laughs. Despite it being hit and miss for the most part, “FUBAR: Balls To The Wall” is fun to watch with friends whether your drunk or not, and it’s a lot more poignant than you might expect.

It turns out that this mockumentary is actually a sequel to the 2002 mockumentary “FUBAR,” and both films were co-written and directed by Michael Dowse. Now I haven’t seen the original (nor was I aware of it when I found out about this one), but if this one is fun, then its predecessor has got to be a cult hit for a very good reason! As this one starts, we are catching up with Canadian friends Terry (David Lawrence) and Dean (Paul Spence) as they are evicted from their shack of an apartment and move forth into an area of life they have rarely if ever explored before: working for a living. We watch as they head out into the unforgivingly snowy landscape of Fort McMurray to jobs that pay far more money than they ever seen before in their lives.

Setting them up with jobs is their pal Troy (Andrew Sparacino) who is commonly referred to by his nickname of Tron (proving that movie’s influence is still widespread). We of course watch as they stumble their way through the job and being responsible for themselves; something they are not particularly successful at. But into the mix comes a waitress at a local strip bar, Trish (Terra Hazelton), who ends up getting into a serious relationship with Terry. This of course threatens the friendship between him and Troy, and you kind of get the idea of where this movie goes from there. Or do you?

From the start, these two guys are not even close to being the role models many countries would love to exploit for the benefit of their citizens. They are a pair of messed up dudes, and the movie’s title perfectly describes them both (Dean even more so). You can’t help but marvel at the fact that either of them has a pulse considering their current condition of being homeless and living out of Terry’s car, whose trunk is loaded with an obscene amount of Canadian beer. But you do find yourself caring about these fools despite their stupid ways, and this leads to some more heartfelt moments that never feel contrived.

You have to give David Lawrence and Paul Spence a lot of credit here as their performances came out from a lot of improvisation. I’m sure there was a script they went off when filming started, but it looks like a lot of it came together from what they came up with on the spot. Both are completely committed to their characters to where you never really catch them acting. There is something to be said for that because what they do takes a lot of balls (ironic when you consider one of the character’s medical conditions), and there’s never any guarantee of success in what they do. They don’t fully enter Sasha Baron Cohen territory, but they come awfully close.

Credit also goes out to Andrew Sparacino who steals a couple of scenes as their man friend Troy, who appears to be headed faster into a downward spiral than either Terry or Dean. Andrew never hesitates in making Troy a less than likable character whose toughness masks a serious self-loathing that is getting the best of him.

But one actor in particular who stands out here is Terra Hazelton who plays the waitress Trish. To say that she’s a force of nature here would not be putting it mildly. She’s more like a vicious tornado that’s out to destroy anything in its path, or at least anything that comes between her and Terry. Terra’s great at giving us one of the most selfishly manipulative girlfriends we would live to avoid, but she somehow kind of grows on you by the film’s end.

Rather than be a douche bag reviewer and give away all of the film’s funniest moments, I’ll instead tell you they involve household appliances and a way you can get paid without working (something we all dream of). Then there is the twisted philosophy of Dean which makes a little sense even though it really should not. You come to like these both these guys even though they are hopelessly naïve about the world around them.

“FUBAR: Balls To The Wall” is nothing new and doesn’t break any new ground in the realm of mockumentaries, but it is fun and engaging and does have its moments. You also have to admire the performances and how the actors all throw caution to the wind. Comedy acting still never gets the same respect as dramatic acting, but this film does act as proof that it’s a lot trickier to pull off.

It does want to make me want to check out the first “FUBAR” movie which I understand has become quite the cult hit. I will be adding it to my Netflix rental queue shortly. I also got to get around to watching the one I rented. It’s been sitting on top of my printer gathering dust for far too long…

*** out of ****