Phil the Alien Rob Stefaniuk

The idea sounds stupid: an alien crash-lands in the Canadian backwoods, morphs into a geeky-looking lumberjack in order to fit in and learns how to be human by hanging out in a bar and drinking himself silly. Well, truth be told, it sounds more promising than it is. The first half-hour is spent introducing one weird and eccentric character after another while interspersing unnecessary musical interludes of quintessentially Canadian tunes such as "Tom Sawyer" and "Have Not Been the Same." The Can-Con overload continues as one recognisable actor after another makes an appearance — everyone from Sean Cullen to Graham Greene shows up. Even Canadian Idol number one, Ryan Malcolm, appears as a waiter. And finally, to top all of Canuck stereotypes, Phil befriends a talking beaver (voiced by Joe Flaherty, who, while not a Canadian, has worked here enough to pass for one). The characters are generally annoying — a mixture of pathetic whiners and obnoxious creeps — and Phil is no exception. Director Rob Stefaniuk plays Phil as a screechy-voiced innocent rather than the typical alien with a high I.Q. who is visiting earth as some sort of experiment. Instead, Phil is here by accident and doesn't accomplish much other than impressing the locals with his ability to move things with his mind. While to some a film like Zoolander is mind-numbing idiocy, to others it is a comedy classic. The same might be true of Phil; it's a film full of idiots, but if you like watching idiots, maybe it's not so bad. The special features include a short called Waiting for the Man by Stefaniuk. It features the beaver puppet from Phil arguing in a restaurant with a sheep while waiting to do some shady dealings. Clearly "over the top" comedy is Stefaniuk's thing. It may work for some, but his brand is definitely an acquired taste. (Maple)