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By Ashley Cooper | April 21, 2004

Poor “rugged” Rich. A couch potato by nature, Rich can’t even go near an aquarium without suffering a panic attack. Yet, he’s somehow convinced his new girlfriend, Jane, that he’s a rough and ready outdoorsman. But who hasn’t stretched the truth a little to impress the ladies?

Of course, all of this is cold comfort to Rich. The only comfort he has each time he passes out, as his lie gets in increasingly precarious outdoor situations, is a visitation by a version of himself as an eight year-old boy. Now this little inner child thing has been tried quite a few times. Ever seen Disney’s “The Kid”? Don’t bother. 104 minutes of a lame joke should never serve as the backbone of a film. But, somehow this trick works here. Maybe it’s because “Rugged Rich and the Ona Ona” is only eight minutes long. Maybe it’s because “Rugged Rich” is written infinitely better.

Without giving away too much of the plot, as the fun of this movie is all about the twists, Rich finds himself in charge of fishing for the couple’s dinner. This clearly is not going to happen. So, the quick thinking Rich drives off to a local fish and chip store and buys an as yet uncooked fish. However, it turns out the fish, an Ona Ona, is from an area thousands of miles away and its presence in the area constitutes an ecological emergency. Will Rich fess up? No, so off he and his girlfriend go to the local ranger station to report the situation. Will he fess up when the ranger, a one-armed climber of Mt. Everest and Jane’s ex-boyfriend, suggests Rich goes swimming to show the exact location where the fish was caught? Probably not. Again, I’m not going to give everything away.

A solid production all around complements this excellent script. Not to be missed, especially if you get the chance to watch it on Canadian television.

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