Film Stripped

Review By Caity Brown

Happy To Be Here
Happy To Be Here

On Dec. 15, the glamorous Rio Theatre had the joy of holding the Vancouver premiere of Happy To Be Here, a low-budget comedy about a dysfunctional family, that was shot right here in our beautiful city.

The film follows a tumultuous time in the life of Dorian Winters, a mid-twenties city dweller who, between jobs and between girlfriends, finds his world in upheaval when his father, an ex-wrestling superstar, has a stroke and is hospitalized. While coping with the abrasive parent, Dorian searches for direction amidst group therapy sessions for “Passive-Aggressive Anger Management,” outings with his formerly drug addicted brother and arguments with his father’s “psychological attorney.”

With a charming soundtrack written by Dustin Cole and notable performances by a small but talented cast, Happy To Be Here sucks you into Dorian’s world, making it impossible not to feel for him despite his numerous self-defeating qualities. Sean MacPherson, who plays Dorian as well as being the writer, director and producer of the film, has created a character that embodies the part of everyone that sometimes feels hopeless and victimized, and that can’t help but be an ass to everyone else. The film is an honest story that maintains that darkly comic flair that Canadians love by including elements that are just a bit absurd, such as a therapist with a collection of lovers (including some of her patients), a bouncy German with a passion for saving dolphins, and a doctor who relies on his interns to tell him his patients’ conditions. However, the film’s themes also address the very real problems of everyday people, such as the stress of caring for your parents when they cannot take care of themselves, the threat of scam artists to the vulnerable, and dealing with depression.

Having been produced with a whopping $1,500 budget, Happy To Be Here has covered considerable ground for a film shot almost entirely in an apartment building with a hand-held digital video camera. It brought its creators to Cannes—a feat that some spend millions to accomplish—and is getting a limited theatre run, which is sometimes difficult for Canadian films to receive, even in their own country. Needless to say, the film has a certain allure that bypasses high production value and big name actors, and that shows what someone can accomplish with the motivation to pick up a camera and just run with it.

Unfortunately, those who want to catch the film in the theatre will have an indefinite wait, or will have to travel to the States to see it in one of its few announced screenings.

Don’t hesitate to show the cast and crew your support. While it has journeyed far on its own steam, it will take people power to bring this film the attention it deserves.