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Red Green's Duct Tape Forever

Published: Friday, Aug. 30 2002 7:18 a.m. MDT

It's a trick to demonstrate that what works on the small screen can be safely transferred to the big one.

So what to make of "Red Green's Duct Tape Forever," a movie that seemed as inevitable as its success seemed doubtful? I mean, how often does a good TV show make for a good film?

Gravel-throated Steve Smith, who plays Red Green in the long-running Canadian comedy and who also wrote the screenplay, is no dummy. Underneath that wretched green fishing hat ticks the mind of a man who realizes that it's not enough to just string together incidents in which big-hearted hicks confront the wicked city slicker, although that is the basis of the plot.

The genius of the film — and yes, there is a certain warped genius to it — can be summed up in two words: third place.

Winning third place in an international duct tape sculpture contest in faraway Minneapolis, along with its $10,000 prize, is all the Possum Lodge boys require to save their home from expropriation and themselves from eviction.

The good galoots are pitted against evil land developer Robert Stiles (Richard Fitzpatrick) whose limousine gets damaged after he drives it into a sinkhole in front of Possum Lodge. A crooked judge has awarded Stiles $10,000 in damages, payable in 10 days. If Red can't come up with the green, he'll have to surrender the keys to his lodge.

This would seem to be impossible, since money is as scarce as clean underwear at Possum Lodge. Leave it to Red's nephew, Harold (Patrick McKenna), to come up with the plan to construct a giant Canada goose out of duct tape and to drive it to Minneapolis to win the third-prize cash.

There's an old-shoe familiarity to this material that goes over like maple syrup on hot pancakes, even if you've never seen the show. Director Eric Till puts the camera in all the right places, but this is very much Smith's event.

Exuding a what-me-worry? charm, he's as irresistible as a shiny lure in a trout pond. And he has something of a secret weapon in Patrick McKenna, whose Harold Green is the devoted relative you always wished you had, as long as you didn't have to show him to the neighbors.

"Red Green's Duct Tape Forever" is rated PG for slapstick violence (including some gunplay), vulgarity (some sexual humor) and scattered use of profanity. Running time: 91 minutes.

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