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Foreign Comedy - Canada - Wilby Wonderful


Wilby Wonderful
Paul Gross, Sandra Oh, Maury Chaykin
Written and directed by Daniel MacIvor
Canada 2004
Film Movement
99 minutes

Wilby Wonderful is a slightly dramatic human comedy DVD available from American indie and foreign film outfit Film Movement. The story is set in a small Nova Scotia community where things are not quite right. This is first suggested by the misprinted banner put up at the town entrance, "Wilby Wonderful" and then by the headline in the local paper promising to name those involved in a scandal at a local tryst spot. The comedy here is subtle, sometimes darkly funny and sad -like the guy who keeps trying to commit suicide and is always interrupted-and a lot of it will put a smile on your face.

English Canadian movies and especially English Canadian comedies are as good as the Maple Leafs but you can't go wrong with actors like Paul Gross (Men With Brooms, Due South), Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy), and Maury Chaykin (Nero Wolfe) and this well-made film. Wilby Wonderful takes place over a twenty-four hour period in a small island town and we all know islanders can be nuttier than a Planters tin. This is a comedy about how surface has a sad, dark undercurrent: the underlying conflict between islanders, non-islanders, and returning islanders; the married local cop (Paul Gross) and the new café owner having a thing for each other, the anticipated repercussions of the paper naming those involved in the scandal; a girl experiencing her first romance under her single mom's bemused and envious eyes; and a high energy unhappy real estate lady (Sandra Oh).

Wilby Wonderful works because though there are a lot of characters and storylines director Daniel MacIvor keeps everything interesting, simple, and easy to follow. As a writer, MacIvor never goes for easy laughs and instead allows the humanity, angst, and weaknesses of his characters to get the smiles and guffaws.

Saying this film is an absolutely charming movie may be damning praise and saying it is a Canadian comedy not encouraging but Wilby Wonderful really is charming, fun, a bit dark, smart, and very original.

Like all Film Movement DVD releases the movie comes with a short film extra, in this case an American production by Melba L. Williams titled A Thousand Words, and very informative movie production notes.

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