Kids in the Hall Brain Candy (1996)

Everybody who's cool knows who the Kids in the Hall are. Take a second and see if you know. If you don't, you're not cool. Nyah, nyah. Okay, I'll tell you, and then you can be cool from the time you finish reading this review on. The Kids in the Hall were/are (there's some doubt) a sketch-comedy troupe from Canada who had their own show on the CBC which also played on HBO, CBS, and now on Comedy Central, which we don't have on our freaking cable because some jerk at Adelphia Cable thinks we should have TWO country music video stations and THREE Bible-thumping moron stations and MSNBC instead. The hottest place in hell has been reserved for that pinhead exec, but on with the story. Their show was like Monty Python meets "Saturday Night Live," in Canada, and, say, both of them are drunk, and one thing leads to get the picture. It was usually an eclectic mix of skits featuring the Kids in drag, makeup, or various states of undress doing inadvisable things, all to hilarious effect. Though the show didn't feature too many stock characters so that each line became a catchphrase, you might recognize The Chicken Lady, Cabbage-Head, Buddy Cole, or their wonderful "The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss." Truly, this show was a landmark in the cultural history of...something. By the way, the Kids are/were: Dave Foley (now of NBC's "NewsRadio"), Kevin MacDonald (now of...nothing), Scott Thompson (now of HBO's "Larry Sanders"), Mark McKinney (now of "SNL"), and Bruce McCulloch (check out his CD, Shame-Based Man).

So after the show ended, they decided to make a movie. What they came up with is sort of Dr. Strangelove meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the nineties. Brain Candy is about a young, idealistic scientist named Chris Cooper (Kevin MacDonald) who comes up with a brand new drug which, when taken, invades the patient's brain and finds his happiest memory. Then it locks in that happy, pleasurable feeling and makes him hap-hap-happy all the time. Before testing can be completed, however, Cooper's boss, Don Roritor (Mark McKinney), president and CEO of Roritor Pharmaceuticals ("The makers of Stummies!"), finds himself desperately in need of a new drug to boost the company's flagging sales. What ensues is a touching, sick fable about the dangers of medicating one's problems away, and a startling, original send-up of our society.

The soundtrack is also a joy, with original songs like "Some Days It's Dark," "Happiness Pie" (Sample lyric: "See the sad man in the corner, he is gross and he is old/People steal his shoes and make him eat mold/His life won't be bad, if he does what he is told/He should be an alchemist and turn his pain into gold...golden pie!"), "I'm Gay," and "Long Dark Twenties."

I hate to say, as some critics have, that unless you liked the humor of the show, you probably won't like the movie. So I'm not going to say it. Watch it. You'll like it. Most of the comedy is not dependent upon references to the show. It stands alone. Meet lovely new characters like Dr. Cooper, Don Roritor, Grivo, Cancer Boy, Mrs. Hurdicure, and Wally Terzinsky. It's a twisted take, and not for the faint of heart, but if you think you've got the comedy cojones, give it a try sometime.

Links for Brain Candy

Internet Movie Database Entry

Roger Ebert Review


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