The Hammer nails it. That was the consensus Saturday night at Langford's Svelte Lounge during the "wrap party" and hometown screening of Jackhammer, Mike Hanus's raucous, outrageously funny comedy set in the world of male stripping.
The body-building Victoria real estate agent and filmmaker was pumped in more ways than one as 300 guests clapped, cheered and laughed when his feature film debut flickered to life under tight security on jumbo-sized screens in the swanky, spacious Gold-stream Avenue nightclub.
Doing what could be described as Ben Stiller's zany Zoolander character channelling Hulk Hogan, Hanus brought the house down with his over-the-top performance as the male stripper of the title, nicknamed The Hammer - a rapping, musclebound narcissist with a fake porn star moustache who impulsively jiggles his pectorals and yells "Bam! That's what I'm talkin' about!"
"We have something really amazing here because everybody in this community really pulled together," said Hanus, whose acting credits in film and TV include Damage and Kickin' It Old Skool.
His collaborators on Jackhammer, made over three years, include executive producers Sylvana Azurdia, his leading lady on screen and off; Dani Zaviceanu and Jason Burkart; producer McKinley Hlady and chief co-writers Guy Christie and Duncan MacLellan.
Hanus said they couldn't have made it without contributions by dozens of sponsors including Parkside Victoria, Ambrosia Catering and wrap party sponsors including Cadence Fitness, Famioso Pizzeria, Akemi Sushi, Popeye's and Kuku's East Indian Cuisine.
While 95 per cent of shooting on the Telefilm-backed movie took place here at locations including the Blue Bridge, Parkside Victoria and Morningside Estate B&B, this Canadian comedy has - dare I say it? - a playable American vibe.
It doesn't hurt having Pamela Anderson, Nicole Sullivan, Jamie Kennedy and Rob Wells heading the cast of cameos.
Indeed, even organizer Mia Bailly's bash had a Hollywood flavour - from the lush, gentleman's club-like surroundings, a crowd full of attractive people (cue the cleavage), the presence of Vishnu, a piglet cradled in the arms of deejay Mike Downey, and sensuous aerial dancing by Cadence fitness.
"The fitness thing is so popular," said Hanus, explaining his inspiration for silly sequences such as one featuring a colourful male stripper wearing roller-blades on the treadmill. "A lot of the story is an accumulation of experiences - the jokes about tanning [Bronzercise], protein obsession and things me and my friends would joke about in the gym."
Local filmmaker Michael Farrell found himself reminiscing about its genesis above the din.
Hanus wanted Farrell to write the movie, he recalled, but he declined because the subject wasn't his thing.
"I used to have ideas for films that I'd take to writers who'd say, 'Do it yourself,' so I said you should write it yourself," he said. "Mike sat there quietly, and then he said, 'You know what? I'm going to do it myself.'"
After Hanus came up with the characters and story, it was re-written by Christie, the Vancouver actor who plays Jackhammer's introverted brother Julius, an unemployed actor who reluctantly tries stripping, and writing partner MacLellan.
Burkart, the flabby, curly-haired actor and Seth Rogen soundalike who plays Frederick, the unlikely male stripping superstar, also "brought a lot of juice to the table," said Hanus, as did Julian Paul, who plays Igor, a slimy Russian stripping agent.
"Mike gave me creative licence to make my lines my own and it snowballed to become a team effort," said Christie, inspired by actors such as Jason Bateman and Michael Cera "and how he embodies bewilderment."
Much of the humour was ad-libbed, especially when Kennedy arrived to play Lance Selmore, a sleazy casting director.
"It was so much funnier when he just let loose," Hanus said. "I was laughing so hard watching the monitor."
There was also no shortage of on-set entertainment for makeup and photo artist Kate Vass. "I saw a lot of things virgin eyes shouldn't see," she said, winking.
The Svelte affair was surreal for Hlady, whose band Get Some opened for 2 Live Crew there years ago. "Now I'm here with a male stripper movie," he joked. "I don't know if that means I'm going places."
Hlady is off to Los Angeles this week with a slick industry teaser to meet potential distributors and partners for Jackhammer, now being rolled out on the festival circuit, and a TV series spinoff.
"We're going for the Trailer Park Boys model that worked so well in Canada - movie, series, movie, series," said Hlady, who was relieved when Magic Mike became a box-office hit. "Male stripper movies are still in their heads."
Out-of-towners included Burkart and Paul, whose thick Russian accent as Igor is a comic highlight.
Burkart said he feels he's part of a film family now and had a blast playing the lumpy stripper Anderson lusts after.
"I have a lot of topless shots that are probably excruciating for my wife to watch," he said, laughing.
Andrew Watson, who plays Max Glutes, said shooting "the six-man bubble bath" at Svelte was his favourite moment.
"The guys were in a wading pool with bubble bath effects, surrounded by 35 hot-looking female extras."
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