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"Roller Town" premiere coverage

Picnicface’s Roller Town is an incredibly ambitious first feature from the Halifax troupe. Abandoning their sketch comedy schtick, the gang has jumped into the world of late 70’s/early 80’s roller disco.

Picnicface’s Roller Town is an incredibly ambitious first feature from the Halifax troupe. Abandoning their sketch comedy schtick, the gang has jumped into the world of late 70’s/early 80’s roller disco. With a shoestring budget and featherlight run time of 87 minutes, Picnicface pulls off the glitzy aesthetic (even if some of the costumes are more American Apparel than Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights).

As with their live shows, sometimes a gag falls flat. But these guys try so hard, and the jokes come at such a rapid-fire pace, that you can’t help but applaud their audacity. The gang isn’t afraid to take detours into faux-existentialism, musical numbers and, yes, a great number of bodily fluid jokes. At last night’s premiere, Mark Little, de facto leader of Picnicface, warned the gala audience that the film might not be in their tastes. The packed crowd included sponsors, Mayor Peter Kelly and Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage David Wilson, who may have preferred Thom Fitzgerald’s Cloudburst for the opening gala. But, as Little asked, “What theme would you choose for the opening party? Roller disco or old lesbians staring at clouds?” The film doesn’t carry any festival gusto, or international distribution. It’s in the same surreal vein as Canadian midnight movie gem The Peanut Butter Solution, which means it’s an instant cult classic.
Roller Town is a standard boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-her-back-with-the-power-of-disco tale. Everybody plays multiple roles, just like in Monty Python. The cast of characters includes aspiring roller ballet dancers, the Dawgfather and a magical dwarf. Picnicface really took the “kitchen sink” approach to the film, and the whole thing feels a little disjointed. It’s like they took the most extreme elements from their improv bits and put them on screen. Still, when Roller Town is running guns blazing, there’s a manic energy that can’t be beat. One scene between a family during breakfast becomes a terrifying trip into some of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen on screen. Half the crowd was in hysterics, the other half was visibly uncomfortable. Picnicface pulls it off in their live shows, but in a film, where there is no stage illusion, everything becomes a lot more real. It’s not for everyone. For those who take the plunge, it’s a blast.
Roller Town is a party film. The type of movie you put on, bleary eyed, at 2 in the morning, after a night out with friends. It follows the grand tradition of absurdist modern cult classics like Hot Rod, The Goods and Sex Drive. This film is weird with a capital ‘W’. Rich Aucoin contributed to the soundtrack and it needs to be released right now. The whole thing is full of killer grooves and disco jams. It’s silly, but great fun.
I’m not sure if or when Roller Town will see a general theatrical release. Given Picnicface’s visibility in Halifax, the film will probably show up on a screen at Park Lane in a month or two. The film is destined to become a cult film and needs to be seen on the big screen.
An encore presentation of Roller Town is scheduled for tomorrow night at Park Lane.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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