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A promotional photo for TRAILER PARK BOYS COUNTDOWN TO LIQUOR DAY shows John Paul Tremblay (left), Mike Smith (centre) and Robb Wells in the Mike Clattenburg directed film.


It ended, appropriately enough, with a huge party.

A decade after Mike Clattenburg showed up hopefully at the Atlantic Film Festival with a rough black-and-white mockumentary about a few hapless losers in a trailer park, the swan song of the now famous characters opened this year's festival in Halifax.

Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day, which opens across the country this weekend, was celebrated Thursday night with multiple screenings and a gala starring several local acts and Brian Vollmer from Canadian heavy-metal band Helix, who had a small role in the movie. Fans hoping for a glimpse of the stars started gathering hours in advance.

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It was the end of an era for a show that almost didn't happen. Rejected by the Comedy Network and pitched on a whim to Showcase, it became one of the most popular Canadian shows during its 2001-2008 run.

"It's hard to identify anything as Canadian any more, but the most Canadian thing to come out [that]I know is Trailer Park Boys," said Mike Forbes, a fan in Guelph, Ont.

"It was like a train wreck, you couldn't look away. We ended up tuning in the next week to see how they'd screw up next. And then you grew to love the guys. You identify with these guys. You see yourself in them."

John Paul Tremblay, who plays Julian, made a similar point before the new movie's premiere. Appearing in character, as the main actors invariably do, he said they offer a sort of role model.

"Other people look at us," he said, wearing his habitual goatee and tight black shirt, but skipping his signature mixed drink for the morning interviews. "I mean, we care about our friends so much and we love our friends and family so much that they can relate to that and wish that they were as good people as we are."

Ironically, the premise of the original Trailer Park Boys movie in 1999 was that Julian, worried about a psychic's prediction of his imminent demise, wanted to record a warning to youth about the dangers of a crooked lifestyle.

Over the subsequent seven seasons of the show he struggled with that same lesson, repeatedly trying to go straight but invariably being pulled back into criminal pursuits. Both the series and a 2006 movie had a considerably lighter tone than the original film, though, without the prevalence of hard drugs, and Julian and Ricky (Robb Wells) left behind their business as contract-killers of pets.

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The new film picks up the story after the last episode of the series and begins, in a now-familiar pattern, with the boys getting out of jail. They return to the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park to find a derelict landscape. Hard-drinking park supervisor Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth), now sober and a keen jogger, has moved residents to a more stylish spot nearby and wants to run a sewer line under Julian's trailer.

Julian is determined to start a legitimate business, Ricky wants to get back to growing marijuana and Bubbles (Mike Smith) is desperate to ransom his many cats seized by local animal control. But Lahey goes back on the booze, Julian realizes the boys need to pull a big robbery and the old antagonists find themselves on a collision course.

"Looks like they cut together all the craziness," Smith said during an interview in character as the myopic Bubbles. "Usually, you know, they film you for a long time and then they take all the funny parts and put them together. I saw the little trailery thing, there, and it looks like they took all the craziest parts and made a movie out of it."

Clattenburg, the director, said the latest film is closer to the show's roots than the 2006 movie, which he characterized as a twisted romantic comedy.

"We wanted to simplify it a bit to Lahey and the boys," he said in a phone interview from Toronto. "You don't want to change the DNA or this isn't Trailer Park Boys."

Clattenburg said that they'd almost ended the show after the fifth season, the year they did the first movie. Fan demand and cast willingness convinced them to carry on for a few more seasons. But not indefinitely.

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"There comes a time," he said. "I'd like to do more new stuff and develop in different ways."

Rather than looking back in sadness at the premiere, though, the cast appeared determined to take advantage of their last chance playing these characters. Many of the main players turned up in costume on the red carpet.

Tremblay brandished the lowball glass routinely carried by his character Julian. Smith peered through Bubbles's Coke-bottle glasses and Wells sported Ricky's pompadour and mutton-chop sideburns, while wearing the same type of polyester shirt and snap-sided track pants favoured by his character.

Dunsworth, a classically trained stage actor, showed up in his park supervisor's uniform, swigging from a flask. His character's on-again, off-again lover Randy (Patrick Roach) wore a jacket as an apparent concession to the fall weather, but it hung open and his hairy belly protruded through.

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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