Like most cheesy (hey—we didn’t say that’s a bad thing) films, Roller Town’s climactic moment comes in the form of an uplifting monologue by the main character. “We were all birthed from the same mother,” says protagonist Leo. “Mother Disco!” And that seems to sum up the movie pretty well.
Set in the 1970s during the height of disco roller rinks, Roller Town is a spoof, a novelty, and a satire all in one. Starring the Halifax comedy troupe Picnicface and directed by the group’s own Andrew Bush, it tells the story of Leo (Mark Little), a dedicated roller skater who sets out to save his beloved Roller Town rink from being turned into a video game arcade. Along the way, he falls for high society girl Julia (Kayla Lorette), and the two embark on a groovy journey to Lovetown. For Lorette, the lead female in the film, working on this project was a ton of fun.
“It was ridiculous,” Lorette says of the Roller Town set. “The Picnicface guys are so funny all the time.
“I like their aesthetic,” she continues. “It’s so absurd and fun and collaborative and you really share in the process. I was just excited to work with them because they’re all amazing.”
Though Lorette is not part of Picnicface, she has known the troupe for years. They met at an improv festival a while ago and have stayed on each other’s radars ever since. She jumped at the chance to work on Roller Town and is hopeful that people will like it as much as she does.
“I think the movie has so many elements people can enjoy,” she says. “It’s colourful, the music’s really fun, there are visual gags; it’s such a light style of comedy and it’s so fun to watch. It’s that absurdist kind of sense of humor, that American summer style that’s sentimental and fun. And you get to watch Mark Little in short shorts!”
And at a time where comedies are trending towards the subtle, Lorette sees Roller Town as a welcomed testament to the bizarre.
“Right now there’s such a trend for subdued, natural comedies that it’s nice to get back to that absurd, over the top ridiculousness,” she says. “It’s about being free and silly and hopefully everyone comes away from it that way.”
As a troupe, Picnicface has already received some famous fans like Will Ferrell, and their YouTube skits have received over 55 million hits. They had their own show (that lasted one season) on Comedy Network and it won Best Show, Writing, and Ensemble Performance at this year’s Canadian Comedy Awards. Roller Town itself won Best Film, Director, and Writing at the awards—and received some Twitter love from Justin Timberlake, no big deal.
But while celebrity endorsement is awesome (“Maybe we’ll get some free jeans from Justin Timberlake!”), Lorette says, ultimately that sort of thing is just icing.
“Any kind of attention that allows the artists involved to continue to create new work is good,” she says. “Even if people are downloading it illegally I’ll be happy because at least it’s out there.”
Roller Town opens in theatres across Canada on Sept. 21.
~ Sara Harowitz, @sarowitz