Kids In the Hall's Brain Candy, the DVD and the Workprint

In 2002, Paramount finally released The Kids In the Hall's sole, under-appreciated film, Brain Candy on DVD. Unfortunately, it was as barebones as you could get. None of the terrifically entertaining extras you know the Kids comedy troupe could have provided, not even any of the famous deleted scenes. And we know there were deleted scenes, because in all their interviews, the guys always talked about the far out fry chef character Dave Foley played that got cut from the film, amongst other things. Plus, die-hard fans got to see some of these scenes over the years, because there was a leaked workprint version of the film.
Brain Candy Is the Kids In the Hall's Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like that film, it's actually more consistent and "solid" than the show was. And while some characters (like the pair of cops who have odd conversations while sitting in their squad car) do recur from the series, the film almost works better if you completely discard any expectations or associations with the sketch show, and just take the film on its own terms. You're then left with a schizophrenic comedy film with an level of unbridled insanity we haven't seen since The Marx Bros' Duck Soup. It's both genuinely funny, which you can't always say about a lot of cult comedy efforts, but also delightfully cynical and dark. This film has a strong message and that's: look how terrible humanity is.
The story's about a group of scientists researching an anti-depressant that focuses patients' minds on their happiest memory. They wind up releasing the pill before its ready because the drug company they work for threatens to close their lab and fire them if they don't start generating profits right away. Everybody is lying to themselves and everyone around them about how awful they are inside as. The film shows us the lives of people in all walks of life whose lives are miserable and then damaged even further by the medication. But it's not until they start going into standing comas that anybody decides there's a problem and a cover-up is in order. Some of the biggest laughs come from suicide and the pathetic "happiest moments" we see in the supporting characters' sad lives. Scott Thompson's supporting character of a repressed family man who finally realizes he's gay thanks to the bill is about the only happy, upbeat line in the film, and even that features scenes of him alone masturbating to gay porn in an attic while his children listen, and getting arrested and dragged up his neighborhood lawn naked in handcuffs.
It's amazing the Kids had the balls to push this film all the way through to completion. And it's no wonder the studio wound up giving it the smallest possible token theatrical release (I don't think I've ever driven farther to see a studio released film on opening weekend) and then toss it out on a quick and cheap home video release. If you want a film that's going to lie to you to make you feel better about yourself, sorry, the Kids were not interested in making that movie for you. But that's what's so great about this film. A silly cable television sketch troupe wound up making actual cinematic art. And it's still funnier than almost all of their contemporaries.
So about this workprint version. Obviously, it's unreleased, but as a big fan of this film, I have laid my hands on a bootleg copy of it. The first half of it isn't very different from the finished film, coming down to things like no opening credits and slightly re-edited scenes. But once you get to the second half, they really diverge. Dave Foley has a major character (the aforementioned fry chef) that's only seen in the workprint. Of course there are lines and gags only seen in that version. But more than that, Janeane Garofolo has been completely cut out of the final version, and the ending is very different. And, on the other hand, the workprint is missing a lot of scenes and elements that are in the final version. So I've documented all of the differences between the two cuts, but I'm bolding the points where the workprint specifically has something unique that's seen not in the final film, the parts fans who've seen the movie are missing.
A shot of Foley's fry chef character, taken from the trailer.
0:01 There's no credits, and the cab driver's monologue is longer.
3:20 There are different crowd/band shots at end of the song.
10:05 The workprint has a cruder animation when Scott swallows the pill.
12:50 The workprint missing establishing shots of building.
14:10 The workprint doesn't have the "everybody back in" line.
16:30 The workprint is missing the "big table" joke.
16:50 Brendan Frasier's cameo is a little longer with some extra back and forth.
18:35 There's a new joke about "what would the great scientist Sigmund say to his class every day?"

21:10 The workprint loses part of the "flipper babies" gag.
24:10 The workprint has an additional line, "isn't that what you all want?"
24:50 The workprint cuts a lot of "ready for another drink" gag.
28:30 The workprint puts scene of Cisco naming the drug ahead of Chris coming to work hungover instead of the other way around.
37:20 The workprint loses a shot of Scott lying naked on the ground.
42:30 The workprint skips establishing shot of building.
44:55 The workprint missing the joke when the drill sergeant looks down at Scott's crotch.
46:50 The workprint cuts the last few seconds of the gay musical number.
47:55 In the workprint, we see Cancer Boy's sedated parents.
48:10 The workprint doesn't have the line about Cancer Boy's marrow being low
50:55 workprint has the "this is the real party" joke before the introduction; the final film has it after
51:05 in the workprint, we see a scuba diver standing at the swimming pool.
51:30 the workprint has an extra piece where Chris tries to tell his boss he's still worried about his drug going non-prescription and getting ignored,
51:50 there's a scene of Chris's girlfriend looking lost by herself, then we cut back to the real party. Cisco and the boss conspire, and then Chris meets Janeane Garofolo on a tennis court and they have a whole scene about her sexual conquests of many scientists. "Steven Hawking was an unconscionable pig in bed." "I've head that." But it doesn't have the scene where the other scientists see Chris at the real party on a monitor.
52:10 only the workprint has a whole, weird scene at a church where Dave Foley plays a former fry chef. we flash back to him going berserk at his job, "no! the fries will never be ready!" he kills his parents, cuts his own hair, and we cut back to him at the church, where he delivers a poem about the drug being no good.
52:20 But the workprint doesn't have the "3 months later" transition and the dog audition scene doesn't happen 'till later. the two versions sync up again at the next scene, where the emo musician sings his happy song.
54:40 The "Happiness Pie" video is edited very differently. it's a longer, fuller song on the workprint.
56:20 The awards ceremony is edited with some different crowd shots.
56:40 Cleptor and Chris tell two more forced jokes on the workprint.
58:10 The crazy fry chef confronts Chris as he walks through the adoring crowd and gives him a poem he's written.
58:30 The workprint moves the dog audition to here.
1:00:40 The workprint loses an extra shot of Chris looking at the mouse.
1:03:30 Mrs. Hurdicure has a new happy memory, which we see is a false memory of her son doting on her, as opposed to the real, cynical one in the final film. Only in the workprint, it makes sense why she's whispering the word "tea" to herself, though.
1:04:00 Extra scene in the workprint: Chris calls an ambulance and is surprised it's already taken Mrs. Hurdicure away before he can even hang up the phone. there's also a very dramatic choral song on the workprint.
1:05:21 There's a totally different set of shots when they decide not to go to the media. only in the workprint, we see the family waiting at the bris behind them the whole time.
1:06:08 The workprint has extra music behind the "acceptable losses" talk.
1:07:38 The workprint moves the "Funky Town" memory to after the fight.
1:09:36 The workprint has an extra coma victim's happy memory, where she gives birth.
1:10:10 In the workprint, Chris goes to his girlfriend's apartment and finds out she and her "new special friend Gunther" are on the pill, and they have an... eccentric encounter.
1:11:30 In the workprint, Chris gets kidnapped on the street and taken to the fry chef who recites crazy poems to him while he's tied to a chair. He's confused when Chris agrees with him and accepts responsibility.
From here on The workprint is completely different. instead of seeing the sailors and his girlfriend's image inside the pill making him decide to go to the media, Chris leads a team of fry chefs to rescue Mrs. Hurdicure and bring her to the Nina Bedford show.
In the final film, Chris instead holds a press conference, but gets a paltry turn-out. His boss then takes him to "the real press conference," where they have the final showdown.
But in the workprint, the fry chefs take over the television studio and the police arrive, questioning Scott's homeless security guard character. we see that more police didn't show up because most are at a funeral for a cop dog. None of this is in the movie! Chris confesses to the studio audience while the lead fry chef has made himself up like an Andrew Lloyd Webber cat and dances to "Memories" for the police. But the crowd doesn't listen and begin chanting.
NOW, in the workprint, Chris sees the two sailors. we see their memory and the girlfriend in the pill like in the final film.
But instead of throwing it down and holding the press conference, he swallows the pill and we see that his happiest memory is when he invented the pill. Then the cab driver narrator comes back and Chris, in his coma, is being rode around as a float in a parade through the city streets "like a fucking astronaut."
They then announce a coma queen, like in the final film. But it ends there, without any of the stuff with Mrs. Hurdicure and the addendum we get in the final film.

I've seen people saying so online, but I wouldn't actually call the workprint the superior version of the film. It's missing a lot of great stuff, and a lot of the unique things it has aren't as good as what we ultimately got. I'd say this is a rough first cut, and they finally made a better version of the film. But, with that said, there's certainly a lot of material here fans would get a lot out of, so it's a real shame it's not been released in any capacity. Again, all we got is a barebones DVD from Paramount. That's now long out of print, and Warner Bros (who's been handling Paramount's back catalog for a couple years now) has since reissued it as a DVD-R as part of their Warner Archives series, but naturally it's still completely barebones. Though at least it's available again.
Here's what the workprint looks like, for the record. It's just a bootleg I copped, so there's no point delving into the (terrible) video quality. But it's interesting that it's open matte with more vertical information in every frame. In some scenes we see boom mics, though, so there's no question that it was meant to be matted wide.

The DVD is thankfully, at least, anamorphic. It's 1.78:1 and offers you the choice between a Dolby Stereo Surround track and a 5.1 mix. It also has optional English subtitles and a French dub. So it's actually not presented too poorly, although the picture is very soft and compressed by modern standards. It would benefit greatly from a new HD transfer. But the basic presentation of the film could've certainly been a lot worse.
And like I said, barebones. No extras. They actually list "Menus" as a special feature on the back of the case. They don't even include the trailer. And that's especially disappointing since the trailer actually holds a lot of extra value with footage not seen in the film. It shows some of the original ending, including Foley's fry chef, and even more intriguingly, has other unseen footage of the prostitute and her boyfriend where she gets pregnant (which kicks so hard in her belly that it knocks the boyfriend on his ass), and they then have the baby. That stuff's not in either version of the film!

And just to add to the frustration, there was already a 'making of' promo featurette made for the film, including interviews with all five Kids (Foley even jokes that they'd better not cut his fry chef character), that aired on television during the film's minuscule theatrical release. Paramount could've not produced any new extras, but at least included that. And the trailer. But nope, nothing.
This film calls out for a special edition blu-ray like few others. It's developed a cult following over the years, and it has a loyal fanbase locked in from the show. The guys have already done interviews about the film online, so we know there's a lot to talk about and they're willing to get together and do the talking. Like I said, the picture could really use the upgrade and it has a lot of production values that would look great in HD. There are some excellent features that already exist, like the promo making of, and a television special about the Kids that talks a lot about the film (actually, I think it mostly takes from the same promo featurette, but still). A commentary by these guys? It's too obvious not to do! They already did the series, so they know what to do. Oh, and maybe don't forget the trailer this time.
And as far as the workprint, I don't think a studio would have to spring for a 2-disc set or anything with both versions of the film. So much of the film is the same or even worse, that I think the best thing to do would be to just go through and snip out the best, unique moments and give us what would be a great deleted scenes package. Even if they don't have the proper footage (which would be great), I think fans would shut up and be happy with the workprint quality if that's all there was. Heck, if Paramount needs it, I'll personally burn them a copy of my bootleg DVD. I can't believe this hasn't happened already. Somebody like Shout Factory should be all up in this.

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