Friday, September 11, 2009

Phil the Alien

A Wacky Comedy about a Canadian Alien... a Canalien

A few years back, my dad gave me several screener copies of B movies that he'd acquired for free from work. At the time, he was a movie replenisher for Fred Meyer, so it wasn't uncommon for him to take home screeners. I watched several of these movies, but there was one, Phil the Alien, that I just never got around to watching. It sat on top of my dusty old VHS collection for years (despite being a DVD), until now.

I was looking for a movie to watch with dinner; tacos with pulled pork, and they were gooood. As I searched through my DVDs, for some reason I remembered this screener I've had lying around since 2004. So I went over to my VHS rack, and there was Phil the Alien, still in it's plastic wrap. Fortunately there were none of those annoying security stickers.

So, after all these years, I finally watched Phil the Alien, and it was... very interesting. Well, it's a Canadian B movie, so naturally it's a bit odd, but despite that it actually had me laughing, and not just because of the cheeseball factor.

The movie begins with several awkward jumps between two scenes. One scene takes place in the woods and the other at the local bar. This is basically where we meet most of the characters, including the bar tender played by Graham Greene, an actual notable actor. After the jumpy, attention deficit first scene, the movie proceeds more smoothly.

The main protagonist, Phil, is played by Rob Stefaniuk, who is also the writer/director of the movie. Phil is a timid, shape shifting alien who mumbles when he's not speaking in his alien voice. His true form is a green thing that resembles Skeletor's rams head staff, but we only see this form at the very beginning. Throughout the duration of the movie, his form resembles an overgrown Malcolm in the Middle after having stuck his finger in a light socket.

The antagonist group is rather ambiguous. It's a top secret U.S. government agency located under Niagara Falls. But when we see the headquarters for the first time, it looks more like some crime lord's lair. Two walls of the dark room are glass and look out onto aquariums; one containing orcas and the other containing beluga whales, a feature which is more "Bond villain" and not so much "government facility". And the agents all wear different colored fur coats, for whatever reason.

The nature of this organization is also a bit fuzzy. The lead antagonist is referred to as "the general", and one member of the group has a flashback to military training, implying a military operation. But then the members are referred to as "agents" and even as "the feds" at one point, implying a civilian government organization. But the two goons of the movie, who act like mafia thugs, at one point refer to their organization as, "the company," giving it the feel of a private organization. But on the other hand, it is a Canadian movie. Perhaps this is what their government is like. All in all, however, it is a comedy. So I just laughed it off.

There was also a rather interesting use of props. In one scene, an agent who turns protagonist pulls a silver gun on a character. I noticed that the gun made a funny humming noise as if it were powering up. Guns don't normally do this, so I figured it it must be some sort of high tech alien gun or something. Upon closer examination, sure enough, it did not look like a regular pistol. Then I noticed the screws in the side. That's when it hit me. I was looking at a Nintendo zapper. It was actually the zapper from the 80's, painted and with the cord removed. Apparently, Nintendo zappers are standard issue for this organization. So this movie gets cool points for that.

So, eventually Phil joins a rock band, gets saved, starts a cult, and saves the day. All in all, it was a rather entertaining B movie. I laughed at the comedy, and well, I laughed at some of the special effects... and some of the directing... and some of the acting... but mostly the comedy.

And there was a talking beaver.

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