Six Canadian Films to Get You Ready for Summer
By Carol Neshevich ● May 18, 2016 10:30
As we all know too well, Canadian winters can be hopelessly long and unbearably cold. Maybe that’s why nobody appreciates the summer quite like Canadians. And nowhere is that more evident than in Canadian films, where sunny skies, lazy days, camps and cottages often play leading roles. As Victoria Day weekend approaches, it’s time to kick off the sunniest season by checking out these great Canadian summer-themed movies.
Released in 1979, Meatballs is the quintessential summer camp comedy. Directed by Ivan Reitman and featuring Bill Murray, in his first big starring film role as head counsellor Tripper, the Canadian film follows the summertime antics of counsellors, CITs (counsellor-in-training) and campers at Camp North Star. Between trying to spark a romance with female head counsellor Roxanne (Kate Lynch), helping shy camper Rudy (Chris Makepeace) gain more confidence, and spearheading wacky practical jokes on camp director Morty (Harvey Atkin), Murray’s Tripper makes sure everyone at North Star has an unforgettable summer.
2. My American Cousin
This 1985 film, set in the “golden summer” of 1959, tells the story of a bored 12-year-old girl named Sandy (played by Margaret Langrick) who laments that “nothing ever happens” on her quiet farm in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. But all that changes when her cool 17-year-old American cousin Butch shows up unexpectedly one summer day in his fancy red convertible. Sandy, along with her pre-teen pals, inevitably develop a mad crush on him. Written and directed by Sandy Wilson, this charming movie won six Genie awards and is widely considered a Canadian cinema classic.
This fun 2008 summer camp movie (also known as Age of Summerhood) by first-time director Jacob Medjuck was filmed at the very same camp in Nova Scotia where Medjuck spent many summers himself, both as a camper and as a counsellor. Set in the 1980s, the movie tells the story of a nine-year-old boy (played by Lucian Maisel) who’s been given the camp nickname Fetus. Fetus and his fellow campers – who have nicknames like Toast, Reckless, New Kid, Grandpa and Mud – get into the usual summer camp hijinks, while Fetus also struggles adorably with his romantic feelings for a female camper called Sundae.
4. This Movie is Broken
Directed by Bruce McDonald, written by CFC alumnus Don McKellar, and edited by CFC alumni Matthew Hannam and Gareth C. Scales, the focal point of 2010’s This Movie is Broken is a Canadian summertime staple: the outdoor rock concert. But in this case, we’re actually watching a real-life Broken Social Scene concert that was filmed at Toronto’s Harbourfront in July 2009. This unique film is frequently described as a cross between a concert documentary and a romantic comedy, with the fictional part of the movie revolving around Bruno, a young man who is desperate to find backstage passes to Broken Social Scene’s outdoor bash to please his longtime crush Caroline, a fan of the band who happens to be leaving for Paris the next day.
5. Take This Waltz
The steamy heat of an especially sweltering Toronto summer serves as the backdrop for the tale of Margot (Michelle Williams), her nice husband Lou (Seth Rogen) and Daniel (Luke Kirby) – the “other man” Margot can’t stop thinking about – in 2011’s Take This Waltz. Written and directed by CFC alumna Sarah Polley, this critically acclaimed film artfully delves into Margot’s dilemma: stay faithful in her relatively happy marriage, or pursue the undeniably strong attraction between her and Daniel?
6. Sleeping Giant
Set in a quiet Northern Ontario cottage community in the middle of a lazy summer, Sleeping Giant follows the dynamics of a friendship between three very different teenage boys: the shy and sheltered Adam, the bold and troubled Nate, and the more mellow Riley. The boys drift through their summer together playing video games, smoking pot, cliff jumping and generally getting into the kind of mischief teen boys get into; but as the summer wears on, the tensions in their friendship become increasingly volatile. Directed by Andrew Cividino, with CFC alumnus Aeschylus Poulos as executive producer, the 2015 movie was named “the best Canadian film of the year” by Toronto Star critic Peter Howell.