Ha ha, eh, it’s Burl, here to review not a revered Canadian classic, but a sequel to same! I’m sure we’ve all seen the vaunted 1970 picture Goin’ Down the Road, about those two Cape Breton chuckleheads making their way to Toronto so they can drive up and down Yonge Street howling and whooping! Ha ha, and if we haven’t seen that, we’ve seen the SCTV version of it, with John Candy and Joe Flaherty arriving in Toronto seeking doctorin’ and lawyerin’ jobs!
Well, if it turns out you’ve seen today’s picture, Down the Road Again, the forty-years-later sequel that takes up the adventures of Pete and Joey once again, I’d be pretty surprised! I don’t think too many people saw this one when it came out! And to tell you the truth, I’m not quite certain why it was even made!
But that doesn’t mean it’s bad, ha ha! Now, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Goin’ Down the Road, but I recall that it ends with Pete and Joey trying to rob a Loblaws, failing, and then hightailing it West, with Joey leaving his new bride and their soon-to-be-born child behind! Ha ha, shame on you Joey! The new picture begins shortly after Joey’s death (the actor, Paul “American Nightmare” Bradley, died for real back in 2003 or so), and we see the news brought to Pete, who is, as ever, played by Doug McGrath from Porky’s, and is now a retired postie in Vancouver! Along with the news come Joey’s ashes and a series of letters asking Pete to perform a series of tasks! These include refurbishing the Chevy Impala which had originally ferried the duo from their Nova Scotia home to Toronto, then driving from Vancouver to Toronto so as he can tell Joey’s abandoned wife Betty that he’s sorry, and thence on to Cape Breton for the scattering of the ashes! Ha ha, it’s a lot to ask an old tired postie, and Pete shakes his head plenty and says “Oh Joey, you ol’ son-of-a-bee!”
Pete makes the drive to Toronto in jig time, drinking Timmy’s all the way, and then has a bit of a job making any rapprochement with Betty (played by Jayne Eastwood from My Pleasure Is My Business), or her friend Selina (Cayle Chenin from Love in a 4 Letter World), or her daughter Betty-Jo (Kathleen Robertson)! But pretty soon he’s on the road again, now with Betty-Jo in the car, en-route to Cape Breton; and Joey, who keeps very busy for a dead guy, ha ha, has got some profound and life-changing surprises in store for his old pal there! These are centered around an old lady called Annie (Tedde Moore from Rolling Vengeance) and her lawyer son Matt! I could reveal the nature of their relationships, but I’ll let you figure it out yourself! Ha ha, shouldn’t be hard!
Don Shebib, who brought us Rip-Off and the original Goin’ Down the Road, directs again, and he’s made a kind of sleepy, good-natured old-guy movie that has the same appeal you might find in an episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross! It’s a mellow movie, and despite all the potentially melodramatic incident with which the back half is loaded, it remains an out-of-time laid-back hoser-cinema right to the end!
There’s a sort of point-form quality to the picture, and watching you feel you’re being told about its events from a two- or three-person remove, rather than seeing them yourself! Ha ha, it’s kind of weird, but not unpleasant, though it does keep one at an emotional remove from the story! Doug McGrath, once described by a critic as “an actor who practically reeks s*x,” is good as the gentle-natured, constantly bewildered Pete, and he’s probably the best reason to watch the picture! All the actors are fine,a ctually, but I do think they could have stepped a little closer to the water when finally scattering Joey’s ashes! Ha ha, in the end, when all is said and done, I guess I’ll give Back Down the Road two dingle-balls, eh!