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Film / Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

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The sweet pill that makes life bitter.

"Shove this up your mind."

After the end of The Kids in the Hall, there was one last project that the eponymous troupe wanted to perform: their own feature film. Brain Candy was the result.

Released in 1996, the film tells the tale of one Chris Cooper, a pharmacist who works with his love, Alice, trying to create the world's greatest antidepressant for his employer, Roritor Pharmaceuticals. It also details the lives of several people with serious mental and emotional issues — like death metal musician Grivo and repressed homosexual Wally Terzinsky — who eventually get put on this new antidepressant, called GLeeMONEX. The drug is rolled out as Chris pushes it to keep from getting fired. And at first, everything is comically okay.

Until it's revealed just why you don't want to rush an antidepressant out the door.

With mixed personal sentiments about the film, the troupe went their separate ways until their reunion in 2000, subsequent tours in 2007–08, the 2010 Death Comes to Town miniseries, and their 2022 revival.

This film contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: "The only way to be happy is to know you won't be happy every single day. La-la la-la la-la."
  • The Artifact: The reason why everyone starts pointedly referring to GLeeMONEX as "The Drug" is because that's what the film's title was supposed to be. It got changed after filming and before release. No one ever uses the phrase "Brain Candy."
  • Applied Phlebotinum
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: With the fresh approach of a happiness-induced coma.
  • Black Comedy: The entire plot is about folks using antidepressants until they're too blissed out to do anything. And one of the troupe's darkest bits of comedy, Cancer Boy, is brought back for the film (he's actually not on the drug; he already blithely accepts his imminent demise).
  • Black Metal: Obviously the kind of music that Grivo performs... until he takes GLeeMONEX.
  • Blatant Lies: Roritor gives Marv a new project and then immediately asks for a status update. Befuddled, Marv states, "Oh, we're on top of that, Don!" Roritor looks at him dubiously for a moment before moving on.
  • Call-Back: Cisco tells a story about a bird hitting his windshield. Later, a bird hits him right in the eye, forcing him to wear an eyepatch for the rest of the film.
  • The Cameo: Brendan Fraser as a drug tester (who knows he's getting the placebo) and Janeane Garofalo.
  • Camp Gay: Wally once he's on GLeeMONEX.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Don Roritor is an insane millionaire.
  • Compressed Vice: People later in the film end up trapped in their GLeeMONEX Tailor-Made Prison much faster than those earlier in the film. It's hinted that Roritor increased the potency of the drug in later iterations.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Don Roritor, who wants to speed the drug into production to pick up his failing pharmacological empire.
  • Driven to Suicide: Chris's father, when Chris was a kid. His father's depression was what inspired Chris to develop an effective antidepressant
  • Drugs Are Bad: More like "Drugs Are For People Who Really Need Them," people who don't have it in them to so much as get out of bed in the morning, not just people with a couple of daily gripes like missing a bus or running out of milk.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: Early scenes introducing the various characters are connected by long tracking shots through buildings and down into the earth.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Don Roritor is introduced helicoptering into his skyscraper while his minions hurriedly swap out the office carpets so that they will match his socks.
  • Expy: While almost no characters from the Kids in the Hall's sketch show are featured in this movie, many of its characters resemble some of the series' most recurring ones:
    • Mrs Hurdicure, as a cheery elderly woman played by Scott Thompson who is largely ignored and taken advantage of by her family, is Fran from the Gordon and Fran sketches.
    • Alice, as a doe-eyed, flighty lady played by Bruce McCulloch, is Kathie from the Cathy and Kathie sketches.
    • Wally Terzinsky, as a mustachioed, seemingly straight-laced businessman played by Scott Thompson that gets dragged into absurd situations, is Danny Husk.
    • Grivo, as a long-haired anti-establishment rocker played by Bruce McCulloch, is Bobby Terrance.
    • Cancer Boy, as a chatty little boy with an unusual speech pattern played by Bruce McCulloch, takes on the characteristics of Gavin. Worth noting that Cancer Boy is the only one of these mentioned characters to have actually appeared in the series.
  • Firing Day: Chris arrives to the lab on a day when Don Roritor is "cutting the fat" and firing most of the scientists on his payroll. "It's carnage!" one scientist proclaims. This is what prompts Chris to claim that he's done sufficient testing on the drug to release it immediately.
  • Folk Music: What Grivo ends up performing after starting GLeeMONEX.
  • Foreshadowing: Chris is probably at his apex when he comes out to present an award and the MTV Music Awards. The song they play to bring him out is "Spiralling Shape" by They Might Be Giants, a ditty about how folks' lives are ruined by some mysterious object that drives them insane and happy. Things start to fall apart shortly thereafter.
  • Funny Background Event: When Dr. Cooper says the drug is for clinical depression and not because someone doesn't look good in a yellow hat, the woman behind him wearing a yellow hat tries to hide her face.
  • Funny Foreigner: The cabbie who serves as the Framing Device.
  • Gender Bender: In classic Kids In The Hall tradition, many of the roles are played by the five main cast members regardless of gender.
  • Gone Horribly Right: GLeeMONEX works by bringing someone's favorite memory to the forefront, enabling them to get past their depression. It eventually causes it to get stuck there... immobilizing folks as they remember their favorite memory in a loop.
  • Groin Attack: Chris grabs Roritor by the balls in order to force him to take a GLeeMONEX.
  • Happy Place: GLeeMONEX works by forcing its user into this, making them recall their happiest memory. The problem comes when they later prove unable to leave. Inverted in the last scene, when Chris Cooper figures out a drug that forces the user into their saddest memory and can break them out of their GLeeMONEX-induced happiness coma.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Wally, of course. When he's brought home by the police completely nude, his wife asks if the handcuffs were really all that necessary. The cops tell her that Wally insisted on them.
  • Hello, Sailor!: Wally and another guy are dressed as sailors when Wally collapses.
  • Hidden Depths: While it's used exclusively as a Brick Joke punchline to the events shown in Marv's Happy Place, Don Roritor, the soulless billionaire narcissist, is revealed to consider the happiest moment of his life to be drinking a freshly-brewed cappuccino made for him by Marv.
  • Identical Grandson: Dr. Chris Cooper and his father are both played by Kevin McDonald (the latter in a flashback).
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Cancer Boy, up for an MTV Music Award.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Parodied with Cancer Boy.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: GLeeMONEX eventually causes you to become trapped in your happiest memory, essentially lapsing you into a happiness coma.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Chris has a long, major case of this at the start of the third act, from when he gets in the elevator to Roritor’s office after finding Mrs. Hurdicure has lapsed into a happiness coma to when he finds Wally in a coma and finally decides to alert the media.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Don Roritor is heavily based on Mark McKinney's imitation of producer Lorne Michaels. Also counts as Biting-the-Hand Humor.
    • Grivo may be a parody of Glenn Danzig - at very least he shares Glenn's hair style, goth/metal image, and tendency to go shirtless.
  • No Control Group: Averted and discussed for laughs, as Brendan Fraser's cameo appearance figures out that he's part of the control.
  • Out of Focus: Dave Foley's characters are noticeably much fewer in number and more incidental to the plot than those of the other Kids. This was a side effect of Foley having effectively left the group at the time of the movie's production and not taken part in most of its writing.
  • Punny Name: Grivo, the sad rocker, has a name that's a combination of rockstar Divo and "grieve"
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Don and his crew of subordinates, Chris during GLeeMONEX's heyday.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Chris (eventually) and his fellow scientists.
  • Suicide as Comedy: In a flashback, we Chris’ motivation for creating the drug: a young Chris’ depressed father comes home, asking if Chris cleaned the house while he was away… including the gun. When Chris answers in the affirmative, Dad trudges into the house, and after a few seconds a shot is heard… followed by Dad yelling in pain that he shot his foot. Another shot is heard, followed by Dad yelling that he shot his other foot. Chris then says that his dad finally got a vital organ… two hours later.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Every GLeeMONEX user's Happy Place.
  • Terminally Dependent Society
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Wally's happiest moments are of getting berated by his drill instructor and doing calisthenics. He also has what is apparently a fantasy involving a mission to have sex with enemy beefcakes.
    Drill sergeant: Terzinsky!
    Wally: (hurries over) Yes sir.
    Drill sergeant: There are two enemy over by the wall, do you see them?
    (He hands Wally binoculars, and Wally sees two beefcake soldiers taking showers)
    Wally: Got 'em.
    Drill sergeant: Okay, Wally. You're my best man. Now here's the plan. You go over there and fuck them, we'll stay here and masturbate.
    Wally: Yessir!
    Drill sergeant: Go!
    (Wally charges the enemy, bare-assed)
    Drill sergeant: Now there goes a man!
  • Toilet Humor: Marv's happiest thought - getting a pal to urinate into Don's coffee. Don's happiest thought? Drinking it.
  • Translation: "Yes": Inverted in the title sequence. Mark McKinney makes a long, poetic, nihilistic speech to his therapist, in German with English subtitles. The therapist tells him his doesn't understand German. McKinney replies, "scheisse," which is subtitled, "The nipples of Mother Hope have run dry."
  • Transparent Closet: Wally Terzinsky, who is in denial despite the fact that his family all discusses it behind his back. As his therapist states:
    "You... are gay. You — you are gay, you are a homosexual. The opposite of straight, you're gay. I know it, your family knows it. Dogs know it! Everyone seems to know it except you!"
  • Tuckerization: Chris Cooper was named after the editor of the original Kids in the Hall series.
  • Wimp Fight: In the second act climax, the wimpy Dr. Cooper and the effete Don Roritor engage in an childish brawl. First, Cooper slaps Roritor's accusatory finger out of his face about twenty times in a row. Finally the pair awkwardly grapple and push each other for a few moments. When they finally break away, they're humorously flustered and gasping for breath, as if they'd been through a war. In a later scene, Roritor wears an outlandish full-arm splint for his injured finger.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real

Alternative Title(s): Brain Candy