Corner Gas: The Movie is a big deal. Yep, you read that right. A big deal.
It is a very big deal that a Canadian series, which went off the air five years ago, was able to get everyone back together, raise over $100,000 in 24 hours from fans, have the original broadcaster jump back on board, and snag a spot in theatres across Canada—even if it will only run for a few days.
This is a very big deal indeed.
We’ve never seen such a success story in Canada, although there have been plenty of post Corner Gas successes to celebrate. None of them have spawned a film—yet—and that’s exactly why this is so important.
It’s rare that we see audiences—not industry insiders or champions—celebrating Canadian TV the way viewers have embraced Corner Gas. We’re getting there with the Murdoch Mysteries and the Republic of Doyles in Canada, and to an international degree with the Orphan Blacks and the Vikings of the world. But as many will say, success begets success and that’s why we need this movie: because it reminds us that we make television worth celebrating. That our entire industry is not simply dictated by the American one. That we have talent north of the border who are doing some damn fine work too, that we have stories worth telling, and that a star system outside of Quebec is perhaps one day achievable.
And guess what? All of that aside, Corner Gas: The Movie is pretty damned good.
The fact that this wasn’t rushed, that Brent Butt was allowed to process the series end before pushing through an 87-minute film is important. As a result the movie feels like an extended episode of the original show, but with a bigger story arc that gives it a cinematic feel. There are inside jokes and references for fans, scenes derived from the original series and a sense that life in the fictional town of Dog River has carried on as per usual since we said goodbye on April 13, 2009.
It’s what happens after the movie, though, that really hits home. Rather than running the closing credits over another original song, a split screen showcases just how hardcore this fan base truly is. As hundreds of names from the Kickstarter campaign roll to the left, fans from the CTV-sanctioned singing booths and from the comfort of their own homes sing the theme song over, and over, and over again, with a panned shot of the cast and a whole other hoard of singing fans on the Saskatchewan set interspersed in between. Throw in some fun bloopers from each of the cast taken during filming and this movie is one worth seeing in theatres for that experience alone.
It all adds up to an expression of what Canadian television can be when fostered and celebrated. Sure, for every person who fondly remembers life in Dog River there may be two who hated the show and feel the need to thrown down online. But in an age where hate-watching has become the norm and shows are lucky to last more than two episodes on a mainstream network, this is a rare case of feel-good resurrection and plain old hope.
Former Kids in the Hall player Mark McKinney once noted in an interview that Canadian comedy could be divided into two camps: pre Corner Gas and post Corner Gas. When the movie hits theatres on Wednesday, that sentiment will forever be extended to the Canadian TV industry as a whole: Canadian TV before Corner Gas, and Canadian TV afterwards.
So thank you for the love letter.
Corner Gas: The Movie hits theatres Wednesday, Dec. 3 and runs through until Dec. 7. It comes to television on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. on various Bell Media channels including CTV.
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