Sunflower Hour (2014)

(On Cable TV, April 2016) There is an interesting premise at the periphery of Sunflower Hour, looking at the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at a children’s TV show. There are plenty of comic opportunities here to contrast public/private wholesome/naughty behaviour. Unfortunately, that’s not what writer/director Aaron Houston aims to do in presenting a mockumentary-for-adults about an audition process in which four people are asked to join a children’s TV show as puppeteers. The characters are insipid, oblivious and irritating: Disappointment sinks in fifteen minutes in the film as it becomes obvious that we’re going to spend the following hour with them. But what’s worse is Sunflower Hour’s chosen tone, vulgar and smarmy and often depressing. (There is a difference between bawdy and gross, and Sunflower Hour picks gross six times out of seven.) The end sequence of the movie had me saying ‘ew’ at least twice, and even appreciating the film as a black comedy does nothing to erase the revulsion of some of those moments. On the other hand, pretty much everyone gets what they deserve at the end, and half a dozen jokes land. Of the actors, Amitai Marmorstein and Kacey Rohl are easily the most sympathetic, but Patrick Gilmore steals the show with his reprehensible antagonist. Still, that’s not much of a result, and I confess that part of why I kept watching Sunflower Hour until the end is a quasi-horrified apprehension at how far the film was willing to go. There are some nasty things lurking at the bottom of Canadian movie channels to satisfy ‘Canadian content’ requirements and if Sunflower Hour is better than some of the literally unwatchable ones, it will stay still obscure for a reason.

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