You Might As Well Live, a twisted comedy that has all the makings of a cult hit, is the first film from two talented Torontonians, actor/writer Joshua Peace and writer/director Simon Ennis. Set in small-town Ontario, the film channels Napoleon Dynamite, if you add a bizarre Canadian twist. Air hockey tournaments, a raccoon roast, and a cross-dressing heroic police officer are just some of the bizarre things that can be found in this underdog story.
This is the tale of Robert Mutt (Joshua Peace), a moronic middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a lousy reputation. After multiple unsuccessful attempts at suicide, Mutt winds up in a mental institution, where he finds he is the most at home and happy he has ever been. After a glorious win against the facility’s new doctor in an air hockey match, Mutt is deemed sane and sent back out into society. But he does not adapt well. After accusations of sending child pornography to his neighbour via email, the town’s residents chase Mutt out of his home. During a séance with his friend Hershey (Dov Tiefenbach), Mutt has a vision of his hero, Clinton Manitoba (Michael Madsen), a local washed-up sports celebrity. Manitoba tells Mutt that in order to be somebody, he needs three things: a girl, some money, and a championship ring, and thus begins Mutt’s quest.
You Might As Well Live succeeds in the richness of its characters. For instance, the audience can, to a certain extent, empathize with Mutt, but that doesn’t stop them from laughing at his foolish shenanigans. Similarly, Mutt’s first love interest, Edna (Liane Balaban), an employee at the local bowling alley who has also spent time in mental institutions, is a quirky masterpiece. Mutt’s seemingly only friends, Hershey and his girlfriend Cookie, provide a counterbalance to the film’s oddball characters. Though they seem far too hip and put together for Mutt, they support him through his journey toward becoming a “somebody.”
This film is not your classic satirical Canadian comedy. Clever in an offbeat way, the film combines Mutt’s innocence with the troubles of living in the real world, and the result is very funny, and very vulgar. Peace and Ennis take crudity to a new level. From public defecation to full frontal nudity, nothing is off limits. But truth be told, it was sometimes taken too far for my personal taste. Though I am not one to shy away from such types of comedic entertainment, more than once I was forced to cringe and cover my eyes.
You Might As Well Live is not for those who are easily offended, and if you want to enjoy the film, it’s best to bring an anything-goes attitude. But if you leave your scruples at the door, you might just be able to enjoy a cult comedy hit and the best gross-out movie you’ve seen all year.