Canadian cinema: an unparalleled disaster

As anyone that’s spent some time in Canada knows … cakers aren’t particularly interesting people. Subsequently, they make little contribution to cinema and the arts in general (one might make an exception for Quebec which has its own provincial film and arts scene).

Spanning the last several decades from the 1970s until the current date, there is little to commend anyone to Canadian cinema whatsoever.

There are Canadian actors who leave for the USA and never return, starring in American-made films. Many movies are filmed in Toronto and Vancouver due to the lower currency rates and tax incentives, but few movies are about Canada. 

Here is a sad sampling of international releases which used Canada as a setting:

Dudley-Do-Right (1999)

“Inept Canadian mountie Dudley Do-Right chases after villian Snidely Whiplash and woos girlfriend Nell Fenwick.”

Rated 3.8 on IMDB. It’s budget was approx $70,000,000 and its gross profit was less than half the cost. As you’re going to see, Canada and its cakers are the butt of a lot of jokes; seen as harmless but amusing hillbillies in a wild northern setting.

Tusk (2014) 

“When podcaster Wallace travels to Canada to interview someone, he winds up meeting a strange man named Howe who has many stories to tell about his past life during his interview. Wallace wakes up the next day finding out Howe isn’t the person he thought he was. Howe has plans to surgically and mentally turn Wallace into a walrus.”

A horror-comedy directed my Kevin Smith. Naturally the hell hole that is Manitoba would seem a fair setting for any horror film.

It’s rated 5.4 on IMDB. Production costs were $3,000,000 and its gross profit roughly half that.

Yoga Hosers (2016)

“Set in the Great White North of Canada, YOGA HOSERS tells the story of Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie – two teenage besties from Winnipeg who spend their lives doing Yoga with their faces in their phones, ‘Liking’ or ‘Not Liking’ the real world around them. But when these Sophomore girls are invited to a Senior party by the school hottie, the Colleens accidentally uncover an ancient evil, long buried beneath the Manitoba earth.”

More horror-comedy fare from Kevin Smith, starring Johnny Depp’s daughter and apparently even less likable than the previous film.

It rates 4.5 on IMDB and had a budget of $5,000,000.

Now, Smith has the right idea – the caker kingdom would be a great setting for all sorts of horror, but for a more realistic take it should be in the vein of Deliverance, Jagarna or Winter’s Bone; namely: hillbillies, crazies, serial killers and hick communities protecting rapists, pedophiles, killers and engaging in other criminal conspiracies.

Strange Brew (1983)

“Canada’s most famous hosers, Bob and Doug McKenzie, get jobs at the Elsinore Brewery, only to learn that something is rotten with the state of it.” 

A decidedly unfunny caker cult-classic starring a pair of TV characters making their debut in big-film. It does have a semi-respectable 6.8 rating on IMDB and did manage to earn a profit of over $8,000,000 – doubling its production costs. 

Canadian Bacon (1995)

“The U.S. President, low in the opinion polls, gets talked into raising his popularity by trying to start a cold war against Canada.”

Strangely, this “humorous take” on American-Canadian relations is somewhat of a caker favorite – since it is not remotely funny, I can only surmise this is due to the fact its about Canada.

Although it stars numerous comedians, it flopped at the box office and made under $200,000 despite it’s $11,000,000 budget. It was directed by Michael Moore, who despite his many compliments about Canada, chooses not to reside there. (Funny that.)

Grey Owl (1999)

“The story of the life and work of the Canadian fur trapper-turned-conservationist who claimed to be an aboriginal North American.”

Like so many other things in Canada, Grey Owl was a fraud. He was a British immigrant who posed as an Aboriginal man and worked as a conservationist. He was the most popular Canadian at the time.

The film was directed by Richard Attenborough and starred Pierce Brosnan. It has a score of 6.0 on IMDB. The production cost $30,000,000 and grossed a little over half a million. Ouch.

Now at this point you may be asking yourself: aren’t there any semi-respectable Canadian-oriented films out there? There are some films cakers claim are “Canadian” because they have a Canadian actor, director or producer. However for the purpose of this list I’m only examining films set in or regarding Canada.

The Shipping News (2001): A film about a traumatized father who brings his daughter to Newfoundland; a big budget flick with some big names: Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. It’s based on a novel and managed to win two awards from “Florida Film Critics” and “National Board of Review”.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997): I’d never heard of this film but apparently it had some success. It’s based on a novel about a car crash in a small town and its aftermath. The location was moved from New York (novel) to BC (film). It was nominated for two Academy awards; it also won awards from Cannes and some film critics.

One Week (2008): A man with terminal cancer (played by Joshua Jackson) goes on a motorcycle trip across Canada. I’ll venture a guess and say he didn’t stop for any hillbilly towns or third-world reserves. Let me guess: scenic stops?

Men with Brooms (2002): Do you enjoy curling? Me neither. Want to watch a two-hour film about it? It stars everyone’s favorite fictional RCMP officer Paul Gross, and Leslie Nielsen. Premise: four men reunite as a curling team in northern Ontario. Estimated budget: $7,500,000. Opening weekend gross in the US: $14,765.

Polytechnique (2009): Tells the true story of a nutty misogynist who went on a woman killing rampage at a Quebec college in 1989.

Are there any films set in Canada that I recommend? I can think of only one that I’ve seen myself and thought decent: Black Robe (1991). It’s about a priest trying to convert the Algonquin Indians to Christianity.

Now of course Canada’s output can’t be compared to the United States – a global superpower with 300 million people. It can’t even be compared to India – a developing nation – since it has a population of a billion people.

I won’t even compare it to Australia – a relatively young country with less people than Canada – which gave us all sorts of films, including the dark gems: Romper Stomper, Animal Kingdom, Snowtown.

No, I’ll compare Canada to smaller nations of 3-5 million, roughly one-tenth of its population:

Denmark gave us Mads Mikkelson, Sophie Grabol, Nikolaj Lei Kaas, Kim Bodnia, Lars Mikkelson, Nicolas Bro, and others. Of course there are famous Canadian actors (now American citizens) but these are all incredible actors who have done fantastic work in Danish films set in Denmark. 

Sweden gave us Stellan Skarsgard, Nina Noren, and others. Several have moved past national prominence to become famous American-film stars, but they all did great Swedish and Scandinavian work.

Norway even as a tiny nation with less recognizable names, still manages quality output that beats Canada. Examples: the action flick ‘Headhunter‘, the historical drama ‘King of Devil’s Island‘ or the humorous college-student flick ‘Troll Hunter‘.

Has Canada examined its past through film? Take the tiny country of Ireland which has made Song for a Raggy Boy, The Magdalene Sisters, Bloody Sunday, and Omagh among others.

I won’t even bother with comparisons against England – a country with only 20 million more people than Canada. You’d expect caker creative output to be even at least a quarter as good, but it doesn’t even merit that compliment.

Forty-five years and this is the best the cakers can come up with! I find Canadian film to be perfectly representative of Canada and its people: bland, boring, utterly forgettable; lacking spirit.