A “multi-platform event” sounds like the type of big city scheme that the comic book-loving gas station proprietor Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) would make fun of, but that’s what Corner Gas: The Movie is being advertised as. It hits Canadian theatres from December 3rd to 7th, airs on CTV on the 17th and hits store shelves in the days before Christmas.
The popular sitcom always had a laid-back, gentle feel but in order to fill a theatrical 90 minutes the stakes had to be raised. It turns out bad civic investments have put Dog River on the edge of bankruptcy. Rolling blackouts and water shutdowns are the norm. Brent initially feels things will be just fine, while both Lacey (Gabrielle Miller) and Hank (Fred Ewanuick) try to come up with ideas to save the town. Fans of the show can guess who has the intelligent plans.
The series was always full of tried-and-true TV tropes and cameo appearances and the film doesn’t change that, getting all meta from the beginning with Hank asking Brent and Wanda (Nancy Robertson) how long it’s been since anything big happened. (The show ended five years ago.) From there, we’re back to Oscar (Eric Peterson) being a curmudgeon, wife Emma (Nancy Wright) barely putting up with him and Dog River’s police department, Davis (Lorne Cardinal) and Karen (Tara Spencer-Nairn) doing their best to fill their work day.
Except for the ninety minute length, the film has all the trappings of a regular episode and Corner Gas acolytes will soon be soothed by the whisper of the wind through the wheat and the cries of “jackass!” emanating from Oscar. They’ll roll their eyes at Fitzie – still a better mayor than Toronto’s former chief magistrate, Rob Ford – and spit on the floor whenever Wullerton is mentioned.
There isn’t much new here, but Corner Gas fans don’t need anything newfangled. They just need to get a hit of prairie laughs from the citizens of Dog River and then, a coffee from The Ruby in hand, dream that a big reaction to this flick will somehow translate into more than a one-off reunion. And if we can’t get that, can we at least get a chili cheese dog?