Dir/scr:Rod Stefaniuk. Can. 2004. 85mins.

Canadiancomedy by nature veers toward the deadpan with a twist of wit dryer than theperfect martini. These elements are out in full force in Phil The Alien,written, directed and starring actor/musician Rob Stefaniuk.

However,the whimsical yarn of an extra-terrestrial who touches down in remote NorthernOntario and changes the lives of a backwoods community is also rife withlowbrow humour that tips the balance toward the negative and the uneven resultmight, at best, enjoy a small degree of cult success. While Canada has produceda disproportionate number of international comedy stars, locally made movieswith humorous intent rarely translate beyond its borders.

Theintentionally inane and cheesy yarn finds the crash-landed ET quickly takinghuman form (Stefaniuk) and dubbed Phil by a teenager ready to blow him tokingdom come. However, when the boy realises Phil's vulnerability and witnesseshis ability to move objects telepathically he relents and offers him whisky.

Thebusy plot finds Phil taking refuge with a talking beaver, pursued by the CIA,enjoying brief success with a local rock band and finding religion. Thescatter-gun approach hits a few perfect targets but primarily comprises cheapshots and flaccid non sequiturs.

Althoughthe ensemble cast is game, the performances are erratic. Veterans includingSCTV's Joe Flaherty and native Canadian Graham Greene manage to emerge withsome dignity and Stefaniuk has an awkward charm in the title role.

As afilm-maker he wisely parodies the production values of an Ed Wood opus butcan't quite pull off turning thepreposterous story into the witty parody he was clearly intent on producing.

Prodco/int'l sales: Black Walk
Can dist:
CraigFleming, Mihkel Harilaid
RodStefaniuk, Warren P Sonoda
Main cast:
RobStefaniuk, Nicole Deboer, Brad McInnes, Joe Flaherty, Graham Greene