By Jim Slotek
A scabrous quasi-romantic comedy that drops more F-bombs than David Mamet arguing with Ozzy Osbourne, The Go-Getters is a low-rent Canadian movie that would probably work as a cable series, on the strength of its disagreeable leads.
It’s love at the bottom of the ladder as the terminally-indigent Owen (Aaron Abrams) meets a drug-addicted hooker named Lacie (Tommie-Amber Pirie) on a Toronto curb, where he’s smoking half-smoked butts off the street and she’s still wearing the butt-revealing hospital gown she had on during her treatment at hospital for an OD.
Actually, quotes around “love” might be in order, since Owen and Lacie aren’t exactly into warm-feels. Anger seems to be the fallback emotion for both, and may be the connective tissue that draws them to each other. I also may be getting deeper than director Jeremy LaLonde (Baroness von Sketch Show) and writers Abrams and Brendan Gall ever intended.
Sure, it’s a movie that squeezes laughs out of the plight of the homeless (Owen’s exasperated brother Kevin, played by Kristian Bruun, does allow them to sleep on a filthy mattress in the leaky boiler room of his bar). But every effort is made to show that these two are so deplorable, they are clearly authors of their own predicament.
How deplorable? On meeting Lacie, Owen agrees to give her $5 for a sexual service – the same $5 he stole from her bra when he found her comatose on a bathroom floor in the first place.
So without moral guilt, we can laugh at every mishap that befalls them as they concoct a life-changing scheme that involves leaving Toronto for Brockville (where they plan to more or less take over the house belonging to Lacie’s grandmother).
The obstacle: the $98 in bus fare it would take both of them to get there. So, like a rejected Trailer Park Boys episode, we watch two low-lives try everything from mugging pan-handlers to rigging up a glory-hole in Kevin’s bar to finance their bus-tickets.
Most people will find Owen and Lacie’s story off-putting initially (and maybe entirely as well), but It is so over-the-top in its characterizations and plot turns that you have to be impressed by the movie’s determination to offend. Sample un-PC character: a pimp in the bar nicknamed Cerebral Paulie (James Cade), so named because he incurred a brain injury while driving drunk and now suffers from palsy.
There’s every reason to hate The Go-Getters and everybody in it. And yet, once you’ve absorbed their collective horribleness, the characters start to grow on you – just about in time for the movie to end.
Hence my hunch that a weekly dose of Owen, Lacie, Kevin and Cerebral Pauly might actually work, TV already having proved with shows like Arrested Development that we don’t have to “like” characters to like them.
The Go-Getters. Directed by Jeremy Lalonde. Written by Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall. Starring Aaron Abrams, Tommie-Amber Pirie and Kristian Bruun. Opens Friday, December 7 at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto, the Globe Cinema in Calgary and the Mayfair in Ottawa.