THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"FUBAR: BALLS TO THE WALL"
Fubar: Balls to the Wall is the sequel to a cult Canadian comedy that I'd never heard of before seeing this follow-up. It traces the adventures of Terry (David Lawrence) and Dean (Paul J. Spence), two long-haired, hard-partying, substance-abusing, heavy metal-loving buddies. I'd call them white trash, but that would be an insult to white trash. Suffice it to say that when Dean is given a carload of beer as a present for surviving testicular cancer, his first instinct is to hop onto the overflowing pile and hump it.
Desperately short on money, he and Terry head north to get jobs working in an oil patch. Taking work seriously is a foreign concept to them, so buddy Tron (Andrew Sparacino) has to set them straight with some tough love. Things don't turn out as rosy as they anticipate; Terry falls in love with a strip club waitress, not realizing that she's also been with all his co-workers, while Dean gets some shocking news that sinks him into a depression. Thankfully, their "party hearty" spirit helps them find the silver lining in the dark cloud that is their lives.
When it comes to comedies, there are some that fit your taste and some that don't. Fubar: Balls to the Wall will be divisive in that sense. The movie's incessant jokes about beer, sex, and heavy metal - coupled with its unending profanity - will have some people laughing hysterically and others reaching for the "off" button. Despite a few chuckles, I found that the first half didn't really fit my taste. There are only so many jokes you can make about how uncultured somebody is, and Fubar blows through them pretty quickly. That's not me being elitist; the characters are intentional white trash stereotypes, created for our amusement.
Oddly, I laughed more in the second half, where the plot introduces some heavier-than-expected elements such as infidelity, illness, and unemployment. Whereas the first forty minutes are simply a series of lowbrow jokes, the second forty minutes put these exaggerated characters into real, identifiable situations. Seeing how their distinct worldview carries them through provides for some more incisive bits of humor. I like that Fubar transitioned from something mindless into something with at least a modicum of substance.
Credit must go to Lawrence and Spence for going full-tilt. The actors fully invest themselves in the characters, never attempting to soften Terry and Dean; the guys are who they are, and they're proud of it. In some ways, I was reminded of Sasha Baron Cohen playing Borat, in that Lawrence and Spence steadfastly refuse to act as though they are in a comedy. Everything is played completely straight, which, of course, is exactly how it should be.
In the end, I felt that Fubar: Balls to the Wall got better as it went along. I was never rolling on the floor with laughter, but I did come to feel a strange affection for Terry and Dean. The film manages to show us a little of what's under the surface with them. Again, it's definitely more of a cult picture than a mainstream one. The movie's arrival on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 19 will likely help broaden that cult.
The Blu-Ray additionally comes with a handful of deleted scenes and audio commentary from the filmmakers.
( 1/2 out of four)
Fubar: Balls to the Wall is rated R for pervasive language, sexual content, drug use, and crude behavior. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.