No Clue (2013)

(On Cable TV, March 2015)  It’s with some good-natured national embarrassment that I report back on disappointing attempt at comedy No Clue.  Seemingly made to satisfy home-grown “Canadian content” broadcast requirements, this is the kind of low-budget film that sound much better on paper than what ends up on-screen.  Perhaps the first clue that this won’t be all that good is to be found in the opening credits, as Brent Butt gets billing as the film’s producer, writer and lead actor.  While Butt is a Canadian comedy celebrity, his mark over No Clue is so pervasive that it risks turning sour the moment his vision doesn’t click with viewers… and that’s almost exactly what happens.  Structured to subvert the clichés of private detective stories, No Clue gets to work early by making the protagonist (Butt) a hapless nerd pretending to be a P.I. when a beautiful blonde accidentally walks into his office.  From there, it’s more (a lot more) of Butt’s often-irritating comic persona grating against viewers’ indulgences.  While I won’t deny that No Clue has a few chuckles, its low-budget production values often conspire against its best intentions.  The blocking is off, Butt showboats like crazy (to the point where the film would be better if they’d just used another actor), the sets feel cheap and there’s a lack of polish to the entire film: It feels slack, juvenile, indulgent and far from being as funny as it should be.  While it’s refreshing to see Vancouver play itself for once (the plot even revolves around the video-gaming industry, appropriately enough) and the ending does wrap things in a halfway-clever fashion, No Clue simply falls short of its own intentions, and no amount of goofiness will improve things when the lead actor proves to be such an irritant.

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