From 2004 to 2009, Corner Gas was a television show that circulated around the lives of several individuals living in the fictional small town of Dog River, Saskatchewan. That’s in Canada. It was a Canadian show. It wound up getting over 100 episodes, and while it didn’t get a large following outside of Canada, reruns continue to play on TV and, for the record, I really, really like this show. I find it hilarious and despite owning the entire series on DVD, I’ll catch any episode that’s on TV. It concluded well after a lengthy run, but there were always thoughts that a feature-length film could be made. Now, thanks to Kickstarter, we have one.
Corner Gas: The Movie is set five years after the show ended, and once again follows the lives of several individuals. It feels very much like a feature-length episode of the TV show, in that it keeps the same format but stretches things out a bit more and allows us to see a slightly longer plot. Our lead, if there is one, is Brent (Brent Butt, also co-writer and series creator), who owns the local gas station. He works with Wanda (Nancy Robertson), and shares a building with the local cafe owner, Lacey (Gabrielle Miller). His parents, Oscar (Eric Peterson) and Emma (Janet Wright), his best friend, Hank (Fred Ewanuick), and two cops, Karen (Tara Spencer-Nairn) and Davis (Lorne Cardinal), are the other leading roles.
The film is primarily about the potential end of Dog River. The mayor has put the town into financial ruin, so now it’s up to its citizens to either leave while the going’s good, or figure out a way to save the town. That’s the overarching story. But, in the meanwhile, each character gets his or her own side story. Davis, for instance, is forced into retirement and winds up becoming a private investigator. Brent buys the local pub. Wanda turns Davis’ soundproof garage into a bar and then a casino. Oscar buys a horse. Hank wants to bring a donut shop to town. A now-pregnant Karen writes ticket upon ticket in order to bring her quota up in case she needs to look for a job. And so on. How it all comes together is something you’ll need to watch in order to find out.
Does it work? Yes, about as much as the best of the TV show worked. I’ll admit that it took me about half an hour to really get into Corner Gas: The Movie, and it’s not like I needed time to figure out its flow again. After all, I catch reruns of the show all the time. It’s like the filmmakers weren’t comfortable at the beginning, as everything was being set up. Once each story was in motion, though, the laughs started coming.
There is an inherent fun in getting to catch up with these characters five years later. Some of it is funny, some of it is sweet, but it’s all worthwhile. If you’re a fan of the TV show, seeing Corner Gas: The Movie is something you have to do. You’ll have a good time simply because it’s more of something you like. Non-fans might miss lots of the jokes and references, but there will still be some laughs to be had.
If there’s a complaint I have about Corner Gas: The Movie — beyond its slow start — it’s that it made me want even more. Yes, that’s a problem. I want to keep watching these characters and following their lives. Enough was revealed in the movie that made me want to see how it would all play out. Could another season happen? Probably not, but I wouldn’t complain if it did. I enjoy Corner Gas so much, and I had lots of fun with the movie. It ended before it got stale, sure, and this movie is definitely welcome, but is it too much to ask for more Gas? I’m thinking it is.
Corner Gas: The Movie will make fans of the television show remember why they had so much fun watching it over the years. It’s a big-budget, feature-length episode, and that’s something to be celebrated. It’s funny, it shows you some things that you didn’t ever get to see on the show, and it contains a couple of surprises, too. Some are funny and some are sweet. It gets off to a slow start, as if adapting to a feature-length running time was difficult for the filmmakers, but once it gets rolling it’s great fun.