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Repost – Funniest Canadian Movies

All the DVDs releasing today are old/B movies and TV shows (or anime) so here’s a repost of an old article I did on Canadian comedies. Happy Canada Day!

As you probably already know, I don’t usually go out of my way to see Canadian movies just because they’re Canadian. Maybe that makes me a bad Canadian. Maybe it just means I’ve got high standards. At any rate, that doesn’t mean I never watch any Canadian movies. In fact, some of my favorite comedies of all time were written and filmed right here in Canada with all or mostly Canadian casts and crews. I’ve listed them for you here, just in case you feel like renting something that will make you snort your stronger-and-therefore-better Canadian beer out of your nose at your Canada Day party. Comedy is notoriously subjective, so if you’ve got different favs why not list them in the comments? Bon viewing!

#5. Men With Brooms

Curling is an inherently silly sport, if you ask me. You don’t even have to be physically fit to play it professionally. Add in Paul Gross as the leader of a team consisting of a drug dealer, a mortician, and a guy with the world’s lowest sperm count, Scandinavian villains who wear silver pants, and a dead coach’s ashes packed inside a piece of sporting equipment, and it gets even funnier. Plot wise it follows the ol’ sporting standard: misfit team, come from behind victory, the captain wins the girl, etc. but with any luck you’ll be laughing so hard at their ridiculous antics that you won’t even notice.

Buy Men With Brooms on DVD.

.


#4. Gunless

Yes, it’s Paul Gross again, but with good reason. Gunless is a hilarious Western about an American gunfighter who ends up in Canada, where there’s no guns, gunfighting, duelling, or wonton violence allowed. Suddenly he has no idea what to do with himself. Maybe he should fall in love! Or build a windmill! His clashes (or lack of clashes, if you will) with the local populace are funny, but the best part is the dumbass Mountie character and his much smarter Native “sidekick.” It would have rated higher on the list if it weren’t for some stumbling around in the story department.

Buy Gunless on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
.


#3. A Dog’s Breakfast

This one is a little harder to find because it was an off-season vanity project filmed using favors called in from crew of Stargate Atlantis but it’s totally worth the extra effort. David Hewlett plays a dysfunctional recluse whose major relationship is with his dog. He receives an unwanted visit from his makeup artist sister (Hewlett’s real sister) and her soap actor boyfriend (Paul McGillion, also of SGA), whom he hates and accidentally succeeds in killing. His Telltale Heart-style efforts to hide the body are cripplingly funny, but even better are the hilariously cheesy sci-fi soap clips. Oh, and how’s this for a fun fact: I actually met him!

Buy A Dog’s Breakfast on DVD.


#2. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

A spin-off from the popular sketch comedy series Kids in the Hall, Brain Candy follows the story of a mostly inept scientist working for a pharmaceutical company that treats pills like candy and spends money making parties within parties for their more important guests. He accidentally discovers a drug that traps people in their happiest memories while trying to cure depression. Each of the “kids” plays about eight different characters and the whole thing is totally insane yet brilliantly satiric. Everything from the rose colored glasses grandmas wear to view their families to drug companies’ preference for money over safety is fair game.

Buy Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy on DVD.


#1. Bon Cop Bad Cop

Forget Canada, Bon Cop Bad Cop is one of the funniest movies made anywhere. An Ontario/Quebec co-production, it’s about an English cop and a French cop who have to team up to solve the hockey-related murder of a man who was found draped over the “Welcome to” sign at the border between the two provinces. Whether they’re giving a lesson on conjugating French curse words while stuffing suspects into the trunk of their car or arguing in two languages over who’s fault it is that they just blew up a house full of marijuana, the jokes are smart, crude, and hilarious. This is the sort of movie you have to watch several times because you couldn’t stop laughing long enough to hear all the jokes.

Buy Bon Cop Bad Cop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

Update: Since writing this a few years ago, I’ve seen a few others worth an honorable mention: The Grand Seduction, and The Right Kind of Wrong.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Films of 2012


Well, another year has gone by, so it’s time to look back and see how the 62 movies I saw in theaters stack up against one another. This year’s best and worst movies were easy to choose but numbers 2 through 5 were hard, especially when I thought about them in retrospect – some big ticket movies were great in the theaters but didn’t hold up when I thought about them later. Others weren’t that great to begin with. In the end there were a lot of pretty good movies and a lot of pretty bad movies, but pretty doesn’t make the cut with me. Here’s what did.

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Top 5/Bottom 5 of 2011

It’s the New Year, which means all of the movie sites are slapping together “Best of” lists and starting their Oscar predictions. I don’t bother with Oscar predictions (that would require caring about the Oscars) but I do like to put together a Top 5/Bottom 5 just in case you missed something good or want to revisit a terrible movie and make fun of it some more. Only movies that I’ve seen count, so there are about 65 movies in contention out of the six million or so that were released in 2011. My criteria for winners and losers are rather nebulous – it all boils down to how I feel about it rather than acting or the directing or the effects or whatever.

Wondering if I picked what you’d pick? Click below to find out!

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Favorite Harry Potter Characters

Severus Snape

Played by: Alan Rickman

I can’t delve too deeply into why I love Snape the best out of any of the Harry Potter characters without spoiling The Deathly Hallows Part 2 on you, but suffice it to say I always believed there was more to Snape than what you could see on the surface. It’s easy to be a hero when everyone’s patting you on the back for it, but when you’re universally reviled (even by yourself) and you still keep doing the right thing, even though no one can know, that’s the most impressive thing in the world.


Nymphadora Tonks

Played by: Natalia Tena

J.K. Rowling does take pains to put witches and wizards on footing that is theoretically equal, but the one problem I have with Harry Potter is that the male characters have twice as much impact on the story as the female ones. Tonks is a character who deserves a story all her own. She can change her appearance at will, is a badass Auror with a great sense of humor, and has a really cute love affair with a shabby werewolf.


Remus Lupin

Played by: David Thewlis

For a while Sirius Black was my favorite because he was flashier, brasher, and more obvious in his concern for Harry, but as the series wore Lupin grew on me. Afflicted with lycanthropy from an early age, he dealt with it with quiet resolve, patience, good humor, and solid logic. Though a little ragged in appearance, there’s nothing shabby about his understated dedication to the people he cares about, particularly Harry, who is not even formally tied to him in any way, and Tonks.


Lily Evans-Potter

Played by: Ellie Darcey-Alden, Susie Shinner, and Geraldine Somerville

Lily never actually appears in the stories, but I really feel like flashback segments and secondhand stories us enough information for her to feel real. She was a sweet kid, willing to befriend the bitter freaks and intolerant of any sort of bullying, even from her own friends. She grew into a mom so dedicated she imbued her son with a special magic that saved his life even as it cost her her own. I’d say her character (if not her fate) is something to admire, wouldn’t you?


Neville Longbottom

Played by: Matthew Lewis

Neville is the character I would have focused on if I was writing a children’s story in the Harry Potter world. A clumsy, underappreciated nobody, Neville comes through again and again in battle despite his fear. His parents were tortured into insanity by Death Eaters, leaving Neville quiet but intensely loyal. He runs an underground resistance movement after Hogwarts is captured. He is the boy who could have been Harry Potter if anyone had bothered to pay attention to him at any point in his life.

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Funniest Canadian Movies

As you probably already know, I don’t usually go out of my way to see Canadian movies just because they’re Canadian. Maybe that makes me a bad Canadian. Maybe it just means I’ve got high standards. At any rate, that doesn’t mean I never watch any Canadian movies. In fact, some of my favorite comedies of all time were written and filmed right here in Canada with all or mostly Canadian casts and crews. I’ve listed them for you here, just in case you feel like renting something that will make you snort your stronger-and-therefore-better Canadian beer out of your nose at your Canada Day party. Comedy is notoriously subjective, so if you’ve got different favs why not list them in the comments? Bon viewing!

#5. Men With Brooms

Curling is an inherently silly sport, if you ask me. You don’t even have to be physically fit to play it professionally. Add in Paul Gross as the leader of a team consisting of a drug dealer, a mortician, and a guy with the world’s lowest sperm count, Scandinavian villains who wear silver pants, and a dead coach’s ashes packed inside a piece of sporting equipment, and it gets even funnier. Plot wise it follows the ol’ sporting standard: misfit team, come from behind victory, the captain wins the girl, etc. but with any luck you’ll be laughing so hard at their ridiculous antics that you won’t even notice.

Buy Men With Brooms on DVD.

.


#4. Gunless

Yes, it’s Paul Gross again, but with good reason. Gunless is a hilarious Western about an American gunfighter who ends up in Canada, where there’s no guns, gunfighting, duelling, or wonton violence allowed. Suddenly he has no idea what to do with himself. Maybe he should fall in love! Or build a windmill! His clashes (or lack of clashes, if you will) with the local populace are funny, but the best part is the dumbass Mountie character and his much smarter Native “sidekick.” It would have rated higher on the list if it weren’t for some stumbling around in the story department.

Buy Gunless on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
.


#3. A Dog’s Breakfast

This one is a little harder to find because it was an off-season vanity project filmed using favors called in from crew of Stargate Atlantis but it’s totally worth the extra effort. David Hewlett plays a dysfunctional recluse whose major relationship is with his dog. He receives an unwanted visit from his makeup artist sister (Hewlett’s real sister) and her soap actor boyfriend (Paul McGillion, also of SGA), whom he hates and accidentally succeeds in killing. His Telltale Heart-style efforts to hide the body are cripplingly funny, but even better are the hilariously cheesy sci-fi soap clips. Oh, and how’s this for a fun fact: I actually met him!

Buy A Dog’s Breakfast on DVD.


#2. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

A spin-off from the popular sketch comedy series Kids in the Hall, Brain Candy follows the story of a mostly inept scientist working for a pharmaceutical company that treats pills like candy and spends money making parties within parties for their more important guests. He accidentally discovers a drug that traps people in their happiest memories while trying to cure depression. Each of the “kids” plays about eight different characters and the whole thing is totally insane yet brilliantly satiric. Everything from the rose colored glasses grandmas wear to view their families to drug companies’ preference for money over safety is fair game.

Buy Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy on DVD.


#1. Bon Cop Bad Cop

Forget Canada, Bon Cop Bad Cop is one of the funniest movies made anywhere. An Ontario/Quebec co-production, it’s about an English cop and a French cop who have to team up to solve the hockey-related murder of a man who was found draped over the “Welcome to” sign at the border between the two provinces. Whether they’re giving a lesson on conjugating French curse words while stuffing suspects into the trunk of their car or arguing in two languages over who’s fault it is that they just blew up a house full of marijuana, the jokes are smart, crude, and hilarious. This is the sort of movie you have to watch several times because you couldn’t stop laughing long enough to hear all the jokes.

Buy Bon Cop Bad Cop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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127 Hours Review

poster for the Film4 Film 127 Hours

Yeah, yeah, I know. This movie came out ages ago. It’s not a new movie at all. Well I had planned to see something new – maybe The Rite, but then I checked the listings and found that my theater was FINALLY getting a limited release of 127 Hours, so I had to go. I’ve underestimated Danny Boyle before and I’ve always been sorry, plus if I saw it I would be slightly more qualified to pick Oscar winners than before. So I went to that instead. If you’re drawing a blank on which movie I mean, it’s the one that goes like this:

A hiker gets trapped in a canyon when a rock pins his arm.

That’s it. Pretty simple. The best stories usually are. Plus it’s got the added appeal of being a true story. It’s currently nominated for six Oscars, all of them in big categories: best actor, film editing, original score, original song, adapted screenplay, and best picture. But as you well know, the Academy and I hardly ever agree. So was 127 Hours really as good as all that? Ish.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Movies of 2010

happy old year
Well, 2010 is over. Even though, if you’re like me, you still keep writing 2010 on everything, it’s officially 2011 now and time for a whole new crop of movies. Before I push on, however, I’d like to go back and review the best 5 and worst 5 movies I’ve seen this year, just in case you were living in a cave or something and now you have time for five movies ONLY before you go back in again. Those of you who’ve read my top 5/bottom 5 of 2009, know that only movies I’ve seen are in the running and since I am not a bottomless well of time and/or money, I can only see one a week (sorry, The Town, and Get Low you missed out) and I generally try not to pick ones I KNOW are going to be horrible. You know, like a normal person.
So onward, with the normal non-rich person’s bestest and worstest movies of 2010!

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Top 5 Christmas Specials on DVD

christmas tree

‘Tis the season for your favorite shows to be replaced by reruns and old holiday specials. Unfortunately, between buying and wrapping presents, baking cookies, entertaining relatives, frantically cleaning and decorating your house, and pulling your hair out, you probably don’t have time to go through and TiVo your favorite holiday specials, much less sit down in front of the TV at exactly the time the networks have decided to play them – if they decide to play the good ones at all. But fear not – there is a solution. Many of the good old specials have been released on DVDs which can be rented or bought almost anywhere. Sadly, Blue Toes is not among them, but here are my picks for the top five Christmas special DVDs:

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Top 5 Animated Sidekicks

Disney started it: the practice of adding in a cute sidekick character to their animated stories so that young children would have someone to amuse them when the movie’s grown-up characters were advancing the plot. It’s characters like Thumper from Bambi and Mushu from Mulan that provide most of the funny and/or cute moments in an animated film – which is why we love them! Disney et all must be getting better with age, because my top five animated sidekicks are all from recent movies.

Scrat from Ice Age

#5. SCRAT

Movie(s) appeared in: Ice Age and sequels

Scrat makes the Ice Age movies worth watching. He’s a sort of prehistoric squirrel rat (hence the name). He’s not a sidekick in the sense that he follows the main characters around, but he’s usually there in the background somewhere on his endless quest to grab and eat that acorn. He never talks, only screams, as endless frustrations and accidents crop up that keep him from his nut. Scrat proved so popular in the first Ice Age movie that he’s gotten several animated shorts all to himself.

Maximus from Tangled

#4. MAXIMUS

Movie(s) appeared in: Tangled

Tangled was a fun movie all on its own, but it was Maximus that made me love it. He’s a palace horse who loses his rider early in the movie but continues doggedly searching for the thief his rider was after. He’s very dog-like in some of his mannerisms (he’ll sit, sniff the ground, etc.) but horse-like in others (his proud stance, his love for apples, etc.) He can’t talk but he’s easily smarter than any of the human guards, so they tend to follow his lead… right to the good guys! He’s not a villain, but he sure is a pain in the butt for the main characters.

Puss in Boots from Shrek 2

#3. PUSS IN BOOTS

Movie(s) appeared in: Shrek 2 and onward

I didn’t like the first Shrek all that much, but I liked the sequels because of Puss in Boots! Puss is a swashbucking kitty swordsman with a secret weapon: his incredible cuteness. This makes him a valuable ally to Shrek and his crew. Usually the cutest characters are the ones who can’t talk, but Puss’ adorable Spanish accent (he’s voiced by Antonio Banderas) just makes him even more adorable. He’s at his cutest in Shrek Forever After when he’s fat and spoiled.

Mo from Wall-E

#2. MO

Movie(s) appeared in: Wall-E

Like all of the robots in Wall-E, Mo is only capable of speaking a few electronic sounding words, but those few words are more than enough to get across his meaning. Mo (short for Microbe Obliterator) is a cleaning robot whose whole life is devoted to sanitizing the ship, so when filthy old Wall-E tracks in more dirt than he’s ever seen in his life, Mo suddenly has a bane of his existence. Mo follows Wall-E all over the ship cleaning up his messes, and ends up accidentally saving the world. Not bad for a tiny monosyllabic robot with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Dug from Up

#1. DUG

Movie(s) appeared in: Up

Most of us had a vague idea of what our dogs would sound like if they could talk before we saw Up, and Dug is it. Dug is a dog with a special electronic collar that allows him to talk – not like humans and other animated dog characters though, but in stream-of-consciousness dog-brain talk. He’s the low man on the bad-guy totem pole, so he becomes the new best friend of the main characters. After all, how could they not fall in love with him when he says things like: “I have just met you, and I love you,” and “squirrel!”

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Top 5 Cat Movies

Cats are complex creatures. They’re independent, they don’t feel the need to please anyone except themselves, and they choose their people instead of the other way around. This makes it very difficult for a lot of writers to relate to them enough to craft sympathetic cat characters and for filmmakers to find trained cats to fill live action roles. It’s why most cats in movies are evil and animated (see my other article on Kitty Film Stereotypes). But if you’re a cat lover, there are some really great cat movies out there that don’t fall victim to the stereotypes. Here are my picks for the top five cat movies of all time.

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