Souvenir Of Canada (2005)
Genre: Documentary Comedy
Starring: Doug Coupland (Author of Generation X and Shampoo Planet),
Directed By: Robin Neinstein
Overview: Doug tries to pinpoint the soul of Canada during his collection of the items for his art project 'Canada House', a gathering of kitschy Canadian memorabilia.
Acting: If you see this, I'd suspect that you'd fall under one of two categories:
1.) Honest and rugged in his normalcy, Doug Coupland is disarming in his delivery, an Average Joe opining about what it is to be a Canadian. He has his touching moments.
2.) This oaf is clumsy and foolish in his attempt to constantly impress the camera with his mediocre cunning wit.
I vote 2. A chubby, middle-aged man with an overbite is not something I get warm fuzzy feelings about. His mother was a natural in front of the camera, and his father was truly grand in the way that you knew he was just telling it like it is in his slightly stoic and reserved fashion, but they only serve to pick up Doug's slack.
Cinematography: There's some nice mood setting moments like those of the 60s as illustrated in the image below, but I must say that the whole premise of 'Canada House', as valiant an attempt it wa to capture our identity, failed miserably. Was it me or did we not even see every room in the house?! What was the point then? As for the camerawork, it succeeded in remaining dynamic and interesting, so it wasn't all a loss.
Script: The humour is that situational conversational 'isn't it funny that...' Jerry Seinfeld style, but more middle aged and less funny. The more touching and amusing moments were those scripted ones probably taken right from Doug's book with the same title, and not from his ad-libbing. The words of this parents were touching too, and if pressed, I'd say this was probably the best part of the film, since there really wasn't that much comedy in the visuals.
Plot: More biographical than cultural, I'd say I felt gyped, expecting to find 'My Canada', but instead being shown the refound Canada that a man who spent more than half of his adult life away from. His family and the art show he set up in a soon-to-be demolished house, I found, had nothing to do with Niagara Falls, Banff, The Beer Store or the Dépaneur down the street. Hearing a single Rush song isn't enough to get me in the zone, I'm afraid. Yes, there was enough 'Canadian Content' to rightfully claim that this was about Canadiana, but 51% is splitting hairs.
Mood:The mood is "All Things Canadian"...as long as it pertains to Doug Coupland, an abstract visual artist, and possibly even pretentious hack. In this house of his we find no moose, no Inuits, no CN Tower, no photos of the vast endless landscapes of the Rockies. We only see an Ookpik, some corn syrup, Dad's cookies and Kraft Dinner. Unfortunately, to me, being Canadian means more than remembering what products I consumed. What a dick. This is the problem with society, thanks for reminding me how much we're turning into America.
Overall Rating: 72% (Bastardization Of My Country)
Aftertaste: Maybe the viewpoint of someone living in the 60s in Vancouver is going to be vastly different from that of someone who remembers the 80s in Ottawa. OK, not maybe, definitely. For me to go to a theater on the holiday celebrating out Confederation seemed like a perfectly appropriate thing to do. I was glad to be with friends, to have the day off, yet I left feeling somewhat... defiled. Friends commented on how this seemed too far out of their demographic, or too autobiographical to be about them, but to me, all the things that were said in jest about being militarily impotent or Separatism was too much west-coast mockery rather than joke. Say what you will about that, but it made the comedy far less funny than the light film it purported to be.