A Hard Pill To Swallow

TO SAVE THE FLAGGING FORTUNES OF his crumbling pharmaceutical company, profit-crazed CEO Don Roritor (Mark McKinney) rushes into production the miracle antidepressant drug Gleemonex. When it's swallowed, a patient's synapses seize on his happiest memory. In Kids in the Hall Brain Candy, the first feature from the exuberantly warped Canadian TV comedy team whose old shows pop up on Comedy Central, we are offered a wacky dystopian vision of a world Prozaced out of its wits. It's typical of the Kids' inky satire that the peak memories Gleemonex evokes are, by turns, pathetic, vengeful, banal and kinky. For dowdy old Mrs. Hurdicure (Scott Thompson, who plays eight roles, four of them in drag, one of whom is a dead ringer for Fran Lebowitz), happiness is a brusque one-minute Christmas visit from her surly son.

The Kids--McKinney, Thompson, David Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald--take no comic prisoners: their targets include corporate slimeballs, nihilistic punk rockers, closet cases, the media, TV talk shows and dumb cops with weird dreams about sex between toast. Produced by Lorne Michaels and directed by Kelly Makin, "Brain Candy" is tasteless, scattershot, frequently nasty and resolutely unheartwarming. That's a recommendation. Broad but not dumb, the Kids' humor keeps you wonderfully off balance--the silliness and subtlety alternate in weird, unexpected ways. A twisted comedy for twisted times, this movie made me happy. Go figure.

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