Near a backwoods Ontario small town, a young alien, on vacation, crashes in his ship. Disoriented, this confused young extraterrestrial is captured by a young boy who, after naming him Phil, introduces him to the stupor of hard liquor before the boy's hick father throws him out. Roaring drunk and bunking with a friendly talking beaver, Phil eventually wanders into a bar where his new addiction traps him even while he wants to go home. Meanwhile, a secret US black ops organization activates a drunken field agent to find the alien. However, while he searches, Phil's easily manipulated personality leads him down paths that profoundly affect his new native friends. Written by
The best of Canadian cinema offers a uniquely demented vision of the world - think the films of David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan. The worst of Canadian cinema usually stars Matthew Ferguson or Lothaire Bluteau. There is no doubt that Rob Stefaniuk's wonderfully original and hugely entertaining Phil the Alien well and truly belongs in the former category.
Phil the Alien is a film that could have gone incredibly wrong. It takes a truck load of gumption and panache to pull off a movie about a shape-changing alien who crash lands on earth, becomes an alcoholic and joins a Christian rock band. Not to mention a film that includes a subplot about a talking beaver, colour coded alien assassins and a child/whore love story. Somehow the film works and manages to be not only hilarious but also surprisingly insightful and sweet natured.
I'm not sure why Will Ferrell is allowed to ruin every comedy produced in North America by his sheer presence, while Rob Stefaniuk remains in relative obscurity. This guy makes Jim Carrey look about as funny as Tom Arnold, and unlike the majority of his colleagues in the comedy world, he can actually act. The supporting cast are all great and the film really profits from their consistently strong performances.
Phil the Alien is the kind of movie you will either love or hate. I obviously loved just about everything about it, from the cool puppetry (Rob Stefaniuk, take another bow) to the old school special effects and even the band's crappy music. I kept expecting the joke to wear thin but it never did. Phil the Alien is unlike any of the dire comedies that have been excreted from the bowels of Hollywood in recent years. For that reason alone, it deserves to be praised and admired by the largest possible audience.
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