For some, friendships make this journey called life all worthwhile. Personally, I have lost contact with many of my childhood friends and it saddens me, especially after seeing this film, The Brotherhood of the Traveling Rants. This is a film about two friends who are tested through events that get perpetually worse, all in the name of comedy.
For those who don’t know who Gavin McInnes is, he is the co-founder of Vice Magazine and is considered to be the “Godfather of Hipsterdom.” The man doesn’t necessarily see himself as a comedian, so it’s funny that he decides to make a documentary following a comedy tour he has designed to promote his new book. Before going on his comedy tour, he invites his best friend since high school, Steve Durand, along for the ride. Steve is hesitant to agree at first but after four hours of heavy drinking and a Bob Shake, the two are off on a 8 day adventure. Oh, for those who are curious, a Bob Shake is something these crazy Canucks came up with when they were in high school to solidify an agreement (no erasies either). The fact that two 40-somethings take something like that so seriously is comedy itself in my opinion.
As the tour goes on, adorned in the towns’ respective hockey team’s jersey, the crass Gavin opens up more and more about not only his friendship with Steve, but also human aspects of his life, like his relationship with his family. I have to admit, I’ve only seen McInnes as a caricature in his various interviews and Vice articles he’s written, so it was a breath of fresh air to see him in this film as a guy clutching onto the days of old while being really f*****g hilarious. The film itself is well-constructed, which is very helpful in today’s market of docs with shaky cams and stitched-together edit hack-jobs.
Edited while they were shooting by editor Bryan Gaynor, the film has a pretty decent flow with some humorous moments of text that add an extra level of fun. For example, Gavin at one point farts in the car as Steve is talking. A text blurb comes up saying “just farted a big one.” It takes a few moments for the fart to set in before everyone in the car reacts. Something like that might be childish to some but I have to admit it pays off due to the comedic timing of all the elements.
There is another moment in the film where the guys are racing around on go carts and Steve drops a camera that is mounted to his go cart. The camera rolls on the ground all garbled up for a few moments. Then, it’s picked back up by Gavin and thrown back to Steve while they are side by side. A shot, that the filmmakers swore was entirely real, is one of those extremely lucky moments that just works really well within the framework of the rest of the film.
Without giving too much away, this movie blends documentary with meta-mockumentary elements so I urge you to see this with an open mind and try to figure out what was real and what might not have been. As much as I would hope that everything was real, I feel like this film has a pretty great three-act structure that is a bit too convenient for a straight-up documentary.
On the somewhat negative side of things, when McInnes employs some of his famous friends (Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Justin Theroux) to help him understand comedy, the moments seem rehearsed and, while funny, also seem unnecessary. Also, when Gavin is on tour, few of the clubs he performs in are well-lit (I mean come on it’s a dingy comedy club so what do you expect?); I realize it isn’t Gavin or anyone else’s fault but I feel like the lack of image clarity can take away from some of Gavin’s otherwise hilarious standup routines.
This film is made in the vein of something like Borat or a Jackass film. However, this film has a lot more heart and character where those other films try hard to sell you caricature. Still, if you like those films, you will likely get a kick out of this style of humor. Whether it’s Gavin doing his off-kilter standup, or lecturing young people on how they are losing out on enjoying farts whilst in a convertible, this film is chock full of laughs.