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Blu-ray Review: THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION

Deeply weird Canadian kid-flick is the first release from Severin Kids

Kids growing up in Canada in the 1980s who were blessed with access to PayTV will recall – fondly or otherwise – director Michael Rubbo’s bizarre and oh-so-French-Canadian eyesore THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION. The movie – part of producer Rock Demers’ perpetually odd “Tales for All” cinema series – seemed to ALWAYS be on channels like First Choice and Superchannel (and then, when the two stations merged, First Choice/Superchannel) and, with its low production values, weird dubbing and terminally insane plot mechanics, THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION became the kind of curio that kids watched when there was nothing else to watch.

Which is not to say THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION is bad. It’s neither good, nor bad. It just is! There’s never been a movie like it before or since, and apparently – according to Severin Films’ copy on their new Blu-ray release – it terrified younger tots who stumbled upon it. I don’t quite get the fear factor, but there is most assuredly an arch, other-worldliness to the picture and a streak of sadism and surrealism that gave and still gives the picture a unique fingerprint.

The movie stars Matthew Mackay as Michael, a kid who lives in Montreal (I think) with his dad and sister and who, after getting scared half to death in a legitimately haunted local house, loses every strand of hair from his head. Adjusting miserably to life as a pre-teen chrome-dome. Michael is visited by the elderly spooks that shocked him and is given a perverse recipe guaranteed to grow his mane back. Said paste includes all manner of material, including dead flies and – yes- peanut butter. After a failed attempt, the goop turns out to actually work and suddenly the kid’s hair starts to grow back. And then it keeps growing. And growing. And growing. Pretty soon, Michael’s chevuex is everywhere, much to the amusement of his best pal Conrad (Siluck Saysanasy, from equally weird Canadian series DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH), who wants to apply it to his genitals.

Yes, you read that last part right and all of us lads and ladies who saw the film upon release were kind of skeeved out by that scene. It’s still an odd narrative sidebar, but again, the entire running time of THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION is insane so bush-league supernatural bush fits right in. There’s a gonzo charm to this movie that separates it from the either squeaky-clean or dumb fart-joke nature of so many modern kid-flicks today, that seeing it now – whether you’re old or young (I showed it to my young kids and they kinda loved it) – makes it seem exotic, even more of an alien experience than it was in 1985.

THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION is the first entry in Severin’s new imprint Severin Kids and we can think of no better transition from the companies typical counter-culture curios and Eurotrash excess to the family film forum than this one. The Blu-ray comes packed withe extras including a commentary with Demers and Mackay, a fun interview with Saysanasy (who is now an accomplished AD working on big budget films) and words with Canuxploition expert Paul Corupe. This is a deeply offbeat and wonky little flashback to Quebecois kid-cult filmmaking and Severin does it justice.

 

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