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Being Canadian (2015)
More a lazily cobbled mockumentary, the documentary Being Canadian pretty much proves yet again that Canadians really need to quit making movies about Canada. Not because the greatness of this country particularly needs to be acknowledged with the gushy fanfare of a mindlessly insular flag-waver, but because movies about Canada made by Canadians ever since the National Film Board of Canada gave up inevitably end up failing to say anything worthwhile that isn't immediately, passionately trivialized. Usually, as done here, by a self-professed 'proud Canadian' childishly confused and embarrassed by that phrase. He doesn't get Canada, and doesn't really want to. #sorrynotsorry
Cohen's relentlessly trite and mealy-mouthed quest begins with him surrounded by step dancers on the East Coast of Nova Scotia in late June. He briefly dabbles in telling the history of Canada with the glib dismissiveness of someone who's already bored. Cohen then heads out on the open road by minivan to hit up various cities for a simple explanation of 'Canadianism' before reaching Vancouver, British Columbia to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, a little over a week later. As though a keen knack for truth-finding was ever supposed to trump mining dumb shit for the series of contrived skits that lurch throughout. Canadians' world reputation for being nice, and our lack of a ubiquitous national food set up Cohen's next dull attempts at playful parody.
It's fairly clear the intention of this film is to pick out stereotypes about Canadians and satirize them. Beer. Hockey. Geography. Politeness. The majority of Canadian-bred celebrities included are comedians who mostly grin at and riff on these tropes. However, this movie continually fails due to Cohen's glaringly underwhelming need to compare Canada to other countries in his weird search for validation. Example: He refers to the musical ride performance on horseback of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as being badass, but only when presented here like an American TV commercial, in slow motion, dubbed to a hard rockin' classic from the Canadian band Rush. To Cohen, cool Canadian moments also include when bygone British loyalists invaded 19th century Washington, D.C., and Québec's FLQ terrorism crisis in 1970...
Here's a fun and relevant Canadian factoid: In 1950, two guys from Manitoba and Ontario named Harry and Larry invented the plastic garbage bag. While its creation likely wasn't a reaction to lousy movies, the documentary Being Canadian definitely deserves a permanent home, unseen, in a tightly sealed and dumped garbage bag. Sure, it's fun seeing recognizable celebrities joke fondly about Canada, watch the trailer if you're curious. However, Cohen's over-all unfunny playfulness and self indulgently patronizing take quickly spoils every enjoyable scene. Actually being a Canadian rocks, but Being Canadian stinks. Reviewed 05/15, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Being Canadian is rated 14A by
the Ontario Film Review Board, citing mild sexual references,
coarse language and tobacco use and is rated NR by la Régie
du Cinéma in Québec.
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