Movie Interview: Earthlings, we come for bacon and syrup

By Kyle Francis

Canada. A country renown for beautiful women and cheap hard liquor. It can be logically extrapolated then, if an alien were to crashland in rural Ontario, he would quickly develop a drinking problem and be hunted down by a hot French girl. At least that’s what Rod Stefaniuk thought when he wrote, directed and starred in the new Canadian comedy Phil The Alien.

Phil The Alien follows the adventures of an extraterrestrial named Phil after crashlanding on earth. Unfortunately for Phil, things get a lot worse. After experiencing his first hangover, Phil seeks to kick his booze habit, and gets hunted by men in vibrant fur coats and a super-intelligent beaver assassin.

The film’s sheer “Canadianess” helps to take its humor up a level, especially with Canadian audiences. Stefaniuk’s conscious decision to leave the unflinching Canadian content in the script while getting the film produced visibly pays off with the snarky tone the movie carries throughout. What other country would sponsor a program to create super-intelligent beavers?

“It’s unapologetically Canadian: It has a beaver in it, Rush on the soundtrack and we show a Canadian flag during the opening sequence,” giggles Stefaniuk, eyes glittering with glee. “Canada has always been known for its comedians and not so much its comedies. I think that there’s such a long, proud tradition of Canadian comedies and I saw no reason to hide that.”

After receiving the Best Independent Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, Stefaniuk went down to Utah for an honorable mention at the infamous Slamdance festival. Phil The Alien may have started out as a low-budget, straight-to-Showcase movie made in the nation’s back yard, but the critical acclaim it received at the national and international levels has it on the fast track to cult classicness.

“The idea came to me when I knew that I would be making a low-budget movie,” recalls Stefaniuk. “When you don’t have the money available to you, you use what you do have. My brother does special effects, and I knew that in his creature shop he had a beaver and an alien, and just based on that I came up with the concept of a Canadian alien.”

Stefaniuk’s outlandish sense of humor doesn’t end at the film’s South Park-esque plot. The movie has red and orange fur coat wearing alien hunters, the leader of which frequently carries on full conversations with the whales living in his office. Little quirks like this add an extra layer of polish to the film.

“The myth behind the Men in Black secret societies is that if guys wearing black suits came and told you that you didn’t see anything, anyone you told about it would think you were crazy,” says Stefaniuk, a grin spreading across his face. “So if you said that the men in multicolored fur coats came and did stuff, they would think you were really crazy. It was just sort of the next logical step in the mythos.”

With boundless acclaim, a genuinely funny script and balefully Canadian content, Phil the Alien is sure to do Canadian audiences proud. If government agents in fur coats, talking beavers and drunk aliens aren’t a good ol’ fashioned Canadian time, what is?