Rub & Tug (October 21/02)
The inherent problem with a film like Rub & Tug, which is set in the world of "full body" massage parlours, is that its subject doesn't entirely lend itself to a full-length feature. And director Soo Lyu is content to allow the film to coast along without ever introducing a plot, which is fine for a while but eventually becomes tedious.
As the film opens, Conrad (Don McKellar) is starting his first day as a manager at a downtown massage parlour. He's warned by the owner not to let the three girls offer sex for money, but everything else is fair game. Soon after, he meets the trio of women who are now under his employ - Cindy (Kira Clavell), a naïve immigrant; Lea (Lindy Booth), an lovable girl with a nipple fetish; and Betty (Tara Spencer-Nairn), a smart and savvy businesswoman who's looking to buy her own parlour. Not surprisingly, the three initially distrust Conrad but begin to warm up to him as the weeks go by.
The best thing Rub & Tug has going for it are its actors. McKellar seems to be channeling Tom Green with his off-the-wall portrayal of Conrad, while all three women manage to create unique and distinct characters despite the best efforts of the script (which was written by Lyu and Edward Stanulis). The screenplay is wildly uneven, throwing in useless subplots to pad out the running time (the short introduction of a new employee at the parlour was particularly unnecessary) and offering up a resolution that provides for happy endings for some characters, but inexplicably turns one into a villain.
Still, Rub & Tug is innocuous enough to warrant an extremely mild recommendation - provided one does not expect anything more than a silly and instantly forgettable comedy.