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Initially, seeing directors/writers/actors Tim Doiron and April Mullen at the 2009 FaneXpo in Toronto dressed and acting silly as their filmic personas from Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser, I was not getting my hopes up for the screening to occur two days later. The aesthetic, both in their actions and characters as well as the marketing materials on display, had a very Napoleon Dynamite-like bent to them, a film I am not a big fan of. These two were just so enthusiastic, though, signing everything, talking to anyone who came up, and posing for tons of photos. The sheer dedication to their work and genuine exuberance at spending eight hours a day for three days definitely warranted a view, no matter how much I may have hated it upon completion. I’ll just say that the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” does still ring true. Tosser ended up being much more Christopher Guest-lite than any Napoleon/Pedro antics, and while indie-quirky like so much these days, definitely delivered on the laughs in its originality.

The brainchild of these two graduated film students educated in Toronto, the film began as a way to get themselves out to the public the quickest way they could. While Tim stayed east and started to write, hoping to launch his own project and not rely on others, April made her way to LA and saw how cutthroat auditioning for roles against the Kirsten Dunsts of the world could be. So these two chums decided to work together and create their own piece—paid for by credit cards and filmed in just 7 days, (“7 days straight through, so more like 14,” as April explained after the film). Looking for a topic that could be a character to itself, being that no name actors would be attached to the film, they decided that Rock, Paper, Scissors could have the mass recognition and appeal to work as a selling point. Writing around the character of Gary Brewer, (Doiron), and his spot in the RPS Championships, the story was born.

Shot as though a documentary—complete with boom mic appearing every few minutes—on the days leading up to the big show, we as an audience learn the eccentricities of Gary Brewer and his girlfriend Holly Brewer (no relation … yet), as well as their live-in friend Trevor Morehouse, a gentleman they found on the streets in an army uniform that has amnesia, not mention a few screws loose too. According to Doiron, Zealand, New Brunswick is a very simple town where you can literally drive down a street counting mailboxes and see that 75% say Brewer, 20% Morehouse, and the other 5% a mixture of different surnames. There also exists an intriguing stretch called Hubcap Valley that is the town’s claim to fame. Using this environment as a backdrop to the Brewer’s history, Doiron and Mullen were able to keep the tale steeped in absurdity that was more so due to the fact so much was based in reality. Even interviews with the heads of the Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament are real, as is a book on the rules and etiquette of the sport. Who knew RPS could be played on a circuit professionally? This thing enters us into a world we may never have experienced otherwise.

While the tale and fight of Gary to win the championship, prove rival Baxter Pound to be a chump, (a great sleazeball performance from Peter Pasyk), get his own trading card, and have the money and success to marry his love Holly, (Mullen), is fun and well-written, the true reason to watch is most definitely the characters. Doiron and Mullen are just having fun at all times. Writing on the fly, changing things, and just plain seeing what comes out of different takes; these two are a talented team with what will hopefully be a bright future ahead of them. Their comedy does deal with a lot of slapstick and physicality, but also with quick quips and great retorts. Facial expressions rule the day, adding some fantastic laughs just from reaction shots or faces in the background. When Gary’s hand goes limp before the tournament, the funniest part of the scene was looking at Trevor, (Ryan Tilley steals the show in many instances), and his opened mouth of disbelief and true horror. With montages of the warm-ups and training, glimpses into their life like Karaoke night at the neighbor’s, and idiosyncrasies like Gary’s inability to toss paper after a horrific car crash and Holly’s fear of scissors after being “snipped” at a match years before, there is never a lull in the action as each gag succeeds on its own merits while also adding to the plot driving everything forward.

The duo at the lead and Tilley’s Trevor work so well together and do it all in complete deadpan. Sprinkling a few gag-reel moments in with the end credits is a stroke of genius because you know there had to have been slips and uncontrollable laughter on the part of the actors. Throw in supporting players like Pasyk and the crotchety old hall-of-famer Finnegan O’Reilly, played by Mairtin O’Carrigan, (think Dodgeball’s Patches O’Houlihan), and you’ve got yourself a pretty entertaining hour and a half of fun. Doiron and Mullen took a big risk getting this thing made, watching it blossom after a year’s worth of post-production and another year of finding distribution, eventually landing with Alliance Films. It is definitely a success story and, after meeting the two, much deserved. Their second feature, with a full budget and backing from Alliance, GravyTrain, stars Colin Mochrie and Tim Meadows alongside them, and will be on my radar as a result of this screening for sure.

Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser 7/10

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photography:
[1 & 2] from the presskit available at www.wayofthetosser.com.

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