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The Wrong Guy (1997)

by on 2010/07/07

The Wrong Guy topped my list of must-review Canadian content films in honour of Canada Day. Featuring Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall fame, The Wrong Guy is an unremittingly hilarious movie about a man who is  always in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing (wrong) at the wrong time.

The film is based very loosely on Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1956) featuring Henry Fonda about an innocent man accused of a crime he did not commit. In The Wrong Guy’s case, Nelson Hibbert (Foley) merely thinks he is being hunted for the stabbing murder of his boss (Kenneth Welsh) while absolutely everyone — including law enforcement, his fiancée, everyone at his office — knows Hibbert is completely innocent. During Hibbert’s pointless escape from justice, he inadvertently finds himself hot on the trail of the real killer played by a super cool Colm Feore (he pulls himself into an air duct and does a somersault in the air while shooting).

Foley is my second favourite Kid next to Kevin McDonald (yes, I loved the Kid that no one liked). Foley’s wide-eyed haplessness, girlish shrieking and desperate flailing is truly wonderful to watch. Directed by David Steinberg, the film is actually based on a sketch that Foley wrote back in his Kids days and it works as a feature film in a way that Strange Brew — the popular sketch that grew into a feature film — did not.

The laughs are unrelenting. Witness suit-and-tie Hibbert turn survivalist in the woods gorging himself happily on mysterious red berries and dirt-caked toadstools — and the inevitable result. Watch him jump a freight train in one dramatic scene only to leap painfully through two open train car doors and out the other side. When finally things go Hibbert’s way, he discovers a carload of canned meat. Cut to two train employees discussing the shipment of recalled tainted ham.

After getting his stomach pumped, Hibbert is helped by “slightly narcoleptic” small-town girl Lynn Holden played by Jennifer Tilly. During his time with her down-and-out banking family Hibbert is redeemed er, somewhat. His good deeds include fixing the family’s white picket fence with Elmer’s white glue and pointing out Lynn’s Marine brother might be gay.

The Canadian cameos just keep on coming during the film. In one scene, Foley is trapped in a dumpster by the Barenaked Ladies band dressed as doo-wopping cops singing “Gangster Girl” and playing craps in the alley. When Hibbert signs into a motel under the assumed name of Mr. Cranstonsonhilmanton, the confused and suspicious clerk is played by fellow Kid Kevin McDonald.  Joe Flaherty plays the honest, hard-working banker Fred Holden being manipulated a crafty Farmer Brown (Alan Scarfe). Frantic’s Four on the Floor Dan Redican plays Hibbert’s corporate rival Ken Daly.

The collective result is an absolutely hysterically funny film that is worth not only watching but owning for repeat viewing. I love this movie with all my Canadian heart.

* * * * *

Rated PG for violence, language

92 minutes

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