(Canada, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Murray Foster
Starring: Lyndon Ogbourne, Luke Marty, Edward Hillier, Adam McNab
The Brits invade Toronto in the eclectic musical-comedy The Cocksure Lads. This funny rock musical brings the funk with a side order of bangers and mushy peas as Brit rock group The Cocksure Lads lands in Hogtown for its first North American concert. The lads can’t believe that they’re finally making it in America—or, no… “Canada,” as they frequently correct one another—and they bring a dash of budding Beatlemania to the city in this irreverent comedy. The Cocksure Lads is a rocking lark and an unconventional Canadian indie comedy.
Put the emphasis on “indie” as The Cocksure Lads brings an idiosyncratic humour that jives with the local film beat and alt music scene alike. The fun starts when the boys—Dusty (Lyndon Ogbourne), Derek (Luke Marty), Blake (Edward Hillier), and Reg (Adam McNab)—land in Toronto and discover the foreign land around which they can’t quite wrap their heads/egos. The Cocksure Lads are on the cusp of fame now that they’ve finally scored a tour in North America, but the band dissolves before it even plays its first set overseas when Dusty, the lead singer, demands a bigger cut of the royalties and his bandmates cry bullocks. Music isn’t about money, the other Cocksure Lads say. It’s about the group, the music, the art, the fans, and the thrill of performing.
The Cocksure Lads offers a different set for musical comedy as the bandmates take their own separate paths, roam the streets of Toronto, and ponder the future of The Cocksure Lads. The film features a variety of performances and songs with a range of catchy musical numbers. Some sets take the form of conventional band performances, songs flow logically with the rock band storyline as The Cocksure Lads rehearse and get pumped up for the gig that may or may not happen, while other numbers take a more escape approach with sexy nurses joining the party as, say, one Lad bursts into song at The Beach. Animated cutouts bring to life numbers about mushy peas and spam, and the humour mostly lives in the lyrics and tongue-in-cheek energy with which the bandmates perform the songs. The Cocksure Lads plays like the Spinal Tap of the Canadian indie film scene with a dash of lo-fi funk.
The film brings to the screen a movie based on a fictitious band called The Cocksure Lads of which writer/director Murray Foster is a part. The film pays a handy nod to the Canadian music scene with fun cameos from Great Big Sea’s Allan Doyle as a bartender and Walk Off the Earth as a Toronto indie band that reminds Dusty that true indie artists live in harmony without worry for posh royalties. The film plays with the notion that commercial success and artistic integrity are mutually exclusive by having Dusty and Reg (the two closest friends of the band) take divergent paths that intersect with different music lovers who remind them why The Cocksure Lads formed in the first place. While Dusty gets a tour from indie rock girl Chloe (Chelsea Leaman), who introduces him to the hippie squalor of other indie bands, Reg finds a guide to Toronto in a Coldplay-loving Brit (there’s one in every city) named Lily (Sophia Labili).
The Cocksure Lads fares best with the two storylines with Dusty and Reg, which also feature some flashback parallels that teach viewers and the characters how and why the band got together. The film hits a few flat notes, however, with the loony bits involving Derek and Blake, who bugger off to a pub when the shit hits the fan and grab a few pints to celebrate the demise of the band. The boys run into Allan Doyle at the bar, which is fun, but they also encounter a pair of sneering Brit-hating Torontonians who plot revenge and aim to get even at the inevitable Cocksure Lads reunion concert scheduled for that night. The film crosscuts this part of Derek and Blake’s story with some scenes featuring randy fangirls ready for some nooners with these charming British rockers. These two parts of the films lack the punch of the threads with Dusty and Reg and the musical sequences don’t integrate into the story as comfortably as the other ditties do. Every album has hits and misses alike.
The Cocksure Lads charts more hits than misses though as the quartet proves to be a lot of fun. They’re a mix of The Beatles and Spinal Tap with their style, sound, and spirits. Foster also gives the film lots of life by shooting the film breezily around Toronto hot spots and by integrating the scenery and pulse of the city into the musical numbers as the bandmates thrive on the high of making it big across the pond. DP Sami Inayeh shoots the Toronto porn and musical numbers warmly and whimsically, while Luke Sargent cuts the film smoothly and guides the differing musical numbers into one seamless song. This rollicking rock musical is a lot of fun.
Rating: ★★★½ (out of ★★★★★)
Rating: ★★★½ (out of ★★★★★)
The Cocksure Lads screens at select Landmark Cinemas on Wednesday, August 5 as part of the Canadian Indie Film Series and opens in select theatres on Friday, August 7 in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa (Landmark Kanata).