Let’s Go Crazy! 

Fourth Film Festival launches with Ski Team Bio

What: Crazy Canucks — Whistler Film Festival opening Gala

Where: Telus Conference Centre

When: Thursday, Dec. 2

Tickets: $25

Canadians can be notoriously bashful when it comes to self-promotion and expressions of patriotic pride.

But dammit, there are some times when you’ve just got to let your (’70s shag) hair down and revel in how cool Canada is. Throw away the self reflective, self-depreciating, sarcastic sobriety and just whoop it up. Play air guitar to BTO’s Takin’ Care of Business and just be a damn hoser.

Obviously thinking along these lines the programming team behind the Whistler Film Festival went and booked Crazy Canucks (2004), director Randy Bradshaw’s film about the Canadian Men’s Alpine Ski Team in the mid-1970s, for the opening gala screening next Thursday, Dec. 2.

To be frank, this film is 100 per cent fun. If you’re looking for a pensive, intellectual, cinematic masterpiece, Crazy Canucks is not your film. If you’re looking for the thinking person’s sports movie, an examination of the sociology of the game and the people who play it a la Peter Berg’s magnificent recent football saga Friday Night Lights , Crazy Canucks is not your film.

This film, simply put, is to make you stoked to be Canadian. It oozes Canadiana from the moment we meet the team’s rookies, 18-year-old Ken Read played by Lucas Bryant, and 17-year-old Steve Podborski, played by Curtis Harrison, bumping through the French Alps in an old VW Bus with a Canadian flag on the front. The year, we are told, is 1974.

In the driver’s seat is a Whistler icon and W-B downhill namesake, the late Dave Murray, seen here as a scruffy, laid-back 20 year old as played by Kyle Labine, and the bespectacled Dave Irwin, also 20 years old and played by Robert Tinkler. The fifth member of the crew, the 21-year-old team veteran "Jungle" Jim Hunter, is buckled in on the roof doing a little guerrilla wind-resistance training.

The film doesn’t linger in 1974, a year of disappointing results which the movie indicates were not for a lack of talent, but for the disadvantage of being off of the European ski manufacturers’ radar. A summer decision follows to focus solely on the downhill events. With the playing field leveled technologically, the film really begins in 1975 with Read’s gold medal result in Val d’Isere and a sudden burst of media attention for the team’s "kamikaze" tactics.

Read emerges as the principal character – likely due to the fact that it was his book on the era White Circus on which the film is based.

Read-focus aside, Crazy Canucks is a buddy movie. The characters are stock, their personalities painted in broad strokes, which will likely amuse a crowd that certainly knows the men behind the onscreen personalities of "Pod" and "Mur" better than the director.

But Crazy Canucks is not a movie for nit-picking, not a movie to be analyzed with a laser pointer and a pair of glasses on the nose.

Ironically Crazy Canucks , a movie about a national downhill ski team, emerges as not much of a ski movie.

But it’s Canadian history, man. It’s beers and toques and retro ski suits and being underestimated in a world of established Euro-tradition.

It’s the kind of movie that can rock this town like a Rush drum solo.

It’s gonna kick the Whistler Film Festival off in the right gear.

Crazy Canucks screens at the Telus Conference Centre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2. Expected to attend are Ken Read, Steve Podborski, Dave Murray’s widow Stephanie Sloan and their daughter Julia – herself an aspiring racer. A festive retro Chalet-style party will follow the screening.

For more information on the Whistler Film Festival go to www.whistlerfilmfestival.com.

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