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This Canadian Mockumentary Is A Hilarious Cult Classic

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Twenty years ago, a small Canadian film called FUBAR was released. This mockumentary is filled with plenty of hilarity, absurdity, & heart. Amidst all the funny moments is a simple story about two friends dealing with the joys, struggles, & hardships of life, as well as how they cope with their issues in their own way.


FUBAR is a short feature that several spectators may find too silly or messy to take seriously, but the key characters are appealing & entertaining to watch due to their larger-than-life personas. This film from Canadian director Michael Dowse also resembles the style of a heavy metal or hard rock music video, especially due to the soundtrack.

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Dean-&-Terry-in-FUBAR

FUBAR is about a couple of lifelong companions, Dean Murdoch (Paul Spence) & Terry Cahill (Dave Lawrence), who grew up together in Calgary, Alberta, & are musicians who formed their own garage rock b&. Dean & Terry have another friend named Troy (also called Tron), who decides not to perform & rejoin his old b&mates due to commitments to the woman he loves & his current career. Tron’s absence cause Dean & Terry to act wild & erratic by drinking beer, shouting profanities, & engaging in crude humor.

The heart of the story revolves around Dean’s struggle with testicular cancer, & how he initially tries to ignore it but is then persuaded by Terry & his loved ones to visit the doctor & receive treatment. Another person who becomes close to Dean & Terry is documentarian Farrell Mitchner (Gordon Skilling), who films these guys & their relatives throughout the feature. It’s not entirely clear why Farrell chose to film & document the lives of these two Canadian friends in Alberta, but Dean & Terry slowly but surely grow on Farrell as they share their perspectives on camera.

Dean-&-Terry-smoking-cigarettes-&-drinking-beer-in-FUBAR

The funniest & most intriguing part of FUBAR is that the film looks & feels like a documentary, but the entire story & all the primary characters are fictional. There are actual people in Alberta (including Dean’s doctor & a couple of guys fist-fighting each other outside a bar) who are briefly filmed &/or interviewed, believing that they are part of an actual documentary. Some of these individuals also befriend the protagonists & wish Dean well in his cancer recovery.

This feature has the look of a documentary due to the basically amateurish but effective filming style. FUBAR was shot entirely with digital cinematography on a Canon XL1 camera, which makes the feature appear like a scrappy low-budget home video (the film is indeed low-budget, beginning with a $10,000 shoot & ending with a $350,000 budget when actor/writer/producer Dave Lawrence maxed out his own credit card to complete filming).

Dean-shotgunning-beer-in-FUBAR

As with many documentary-style films, this one did not have a script & relied heavily on improvisation. Dean & Terry are seen constantly hanging out together & dancing hard to rock music (which is why they’re considered head-bangers who shake their heads erratically to rhythmic rock & heavy metal tracks). While watching two guys rocking to music may not be the most appealing thing in the world, Dean & Terry are shown doing this as a form of release & escapism. They unleash their frustrations with rock music when their friend Tron is not with them to perform, & Dean relies on music to comfort himself during his cancer diagnosis.

The improvisation is also accompanied by several f-bombs & profane language, along with crude & rude humor (including farts). Dean is especially foul-mouthed over his issues with cancer & references how physically challenging he will feel without the intimacy of a woman. Dean & Terry also treat each other like two small children who don’t have jobs & live in a messy house with unfinished beds. All they care about is hanging out with family & friends, drinking & chugging down beer from the side of a can (shotgunning), & partying to classic rock.

One of the film’s best moments is when Dean, Terry, & documentarian Farrell go camping & stay at a hotel so that Dean can have some fun before having surgery to treat his testicular cancer. During that trip, all three men get heavily drunk one evening, forcing Farrell to get brutally honest with the rockers about his true feelings as a filmmaker. Farrell says that he could’ve filmed a documentary about anybody similar to Terry & Dean, but this meltdown from Farrell shows that he has actually grown to care about these guys, especially Dean’s cancer struggles.

However, the film takes a huge left turn when Farrell unexpectedly dies after jumping into a lake. Many would have figured Dean to be the one to die by the end of this film since he has cancer, but Farrell’s death sentimentally impacts Terry & Dean because they were becoming friends with the documentarian, & they realize how precious & fragile life can be. FUBAR is a mockumentary that has an electric soundtrack, along with characters who are comically absurd due to their erratic behavior but touching because of the problems they go through in life. There is a weird but effective mix of comedy & drama, & Dean’s catchphrase, “just give’r,” represents Dean’s persistence to keep living his fun, wild life, & to not let cancer bring him down.

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