Cruising Bar 2 (2008) dir. Michel Côté, Robert Menard
Starring: Michael Côté, Lise Roy, Véronique Le Flaguais, Martin Thibaudeau
What is "Cruising Bar 2" you ask? It's one of the biggest films in Canada this year, and virtually unknown outside of Quebec. “Cruising Bar 2” is a sequel to, of course… “Cruising Bar 1” (1989). I had never heard of original, but the characters were popular enough to warrant a sequel. Autonomous success of homegrown films in Quebec is commonplace, and “Cruising Bar 2” is one the best examples of its self-sustaining industry and star system.
It's the brainchild of Quebec comedian Michel Côté. The sequel continues the saga of four regular (now middle-aged) guys looking for love: Jean-Jacques is the suave business man so self-absorbed he thinks he might be gay, Gerard is an suburban schmuck who cheats on his wife and gets caught, but seeks to get her back; Patrice is a wildcard, an enthusiastic longhaired n’er-do-well stuntman who doesn't know he's too old to go to danceclubs; and Serge the unassuming shy wallflower who takes Samba lessons to learn how to socialize.
The hook is that Michel Côté plays all the characters. On first glance, without knowing anything of the previous film or Côté’s brand of humour, the sight of the actor, wearing a myriad of wigs, fat suits, false noses etc to make himself look different seemed an egotistical exercise. It never reaches the absurd grandeur of Peter Sellers’ work in “Dr. Strangelove” or even some of the great Eddie Murphy characters over the years. Yet as the film progressed I ceased to see one actor in multiple roles, instead each character grew out of Côté to be a distinct person.
Tonally the film moves from absurdity to slapstick to poignant reflections on life and love. The structure isolates each character with his individual story, like another Canadian ensemble character flick, “Young People F*cking”, characters don’t intersect instead lead parallel lives where the whole is greater than the sum of their individual adventures.
It runs a predictable course and in the end each character gets exactly what they want. Hurdles are overcome, neuroses extinguished, problems solved – at least until “Cruising Bar 3” when everything will come crashing down again.
“Cruising Bar 2” has made $3.5 million in the Quebec box office. Barely a blip on Box Office Mojo, but their population is about 1/40 of the U.S., so do the math and “Cruising Bar 2” is a $140 million film.
“Cruising Bar 2” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Alliance Films in Canada.