Critipeg: The Rainbow Boys

★★★★½ out of 5

Plays Sept. 22 to 26 at Cinematheque.

The 1973 film The Rainbow Boys follows a bickering, ragtag trio as they embark on a humorous quest to find a lost gold mine that belonged to the father of one of three.

Rainbow Boys is an easy watch in the best way possible. It does a unique spin on a quest narrative, where the obstacles aren’t adversarial beings or evil forces but rather comedic instances of human error.

Impressively, the movie has its fair share of hijinks, yet it maintains a down-toearth mood. Nothing that befalls the trio seems too absurd or over-the-top. There’s some ridiculousness, yes, but nothing that feels outside the bounds of reality. This clean, grounded aspect of the film adds to its abundant charm.

By far, the best part is watching the main cast. Donald Pleasence plays the eccentric and elderly Ralph Logan, who bumbles through his quest to find his father’s mine. Accompanying him is his grouchy, wonderfully snide friend Gladys (Kate Reid) and a brash, clever, but also recent acquaintance, Mazella (Don Calfa).

Each of these characters have huge personalities with built-in layers of emotionality that, if tackled by a lesser cast, would’ve come across as hokey and cartoonish. But Pleasence, Reid and Calfa are not only able to portray the multifaceted nature of their roles. They also successfully gel into a well-balanced band.

Pleasence is the comedic heartbeat of the film. He nails the absent-minded, butterfingered qualities of Ralph Logan. It’s impossible not to be endeared to the character.

Playing off Pleasence exceedingly well, Calfa embodies a youthful, somewhat exploitative spirit that generates a blunt and distinct foil to Ralph Logan. Without Calfa, Pleasence wouldn’t be nearly as funny.

But it’s Reid who’s by no uncertain terms the backbone of the trio. Despite her harsh, sardonic exterior that is often Gladys’s default behaviour, Reid is able to draw out her character’s softer, emotional vulnerabilities. This is especially prevalent during the brief but heart-wrenching moments that explore her dispiriting romantic past. The way Reid balances the dualities of Gladys is brilliant.

Watching the triad play off each other is nothing short of an unadulterated delight.

One of the film’s highlights is its ending. Without giving too much away, the ending is the cherry on top of a good quest narrative – a clean, complete conclusion that befits the journey embarked. The ending is satisfying, with no loose strings or extraneous details.

Overall, The Rainbow Boys is an enjoyable watch for an easygoing afternoon. For anyone looking for a movie that’s simple but chock-full of bountiful charm, The Rainbow Boys is a must-watch.

Published in Volume 76, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 16, 2021)

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