You likely know the Assholes are proud Canadians but you may know not know that I (Jay) am French-Canadian. I didn’t grow up in Québec (the traditionally french-speaking province), but in a small eastern Ontario town that borders it. I grew up speaking both languages but for the first ten years of my life, I was educated solely en français . It was a little school, about 100 kids covering grades from la maternelle (pre-kindergarten or jk) to la huitième année, or grade eight. When the temperatures dipped below -20 into frostbite territory, the whole school would assemble into our tiny gym, and one of the few movies screened for us on a 24-inch TV was La guerre des tuques. It was a movie about a bunch of kids who wage an all-out snowball fight in the vicinity of a huge snow fort during their winter break. La guerre des tuques literally translates to war of the tuques, but the English version was called The Dog Who Stopped The War.
This year, a new, animated version of the movie was released so a new generation could appreciate it. I was excited to revisit my childhood. Matt and Sean, dumb anglos, didn’t know it from a baseball cap battle, so they were in for a treat. It’s screening this week as part of Ottawa’s International Animation Festival, conveniently in English and everything (this time the English title is Snowtime!)
Being animated, they can take things a little further than a live-action movie made in the 80s could. The fort is several stories high, with CCTV, a secret railroad, and constantly simmering hot chocolate (though they draw the tech line at telephones: the old tin can method is still used, despite the fact that kids today rarely see a landline with a cord). It’s still got all the things kids look for in a fun movie: fart jokes, slightly crude humour, references to girls being icky and boys being stinky. It’s also quintessentially Canadian: yes there are hockey sticks, but also lacrosse sticks and curling brooms.
There’s a lot of good fun to be had and despite it being a “war”, most of it pretty benign. However, the end forcibly inserts a teachable moment and a dog must make the, ahem, ultimate sacrifice. It doesn’t quite fit and I wish it went differently.
Sandra Oh makes her second appearance as a voice actor in this festival (she was in Window Horses as well); this time she plays 4-eyed Frankie, and despite it being a bigger stretch, I’d say she does it more seamlessly this time around. And because this is a shamelessly Canadian production, it wouldn’t be complete without a soundtrack featuring Walk Off The Earth, Simple Plan, and Celine Dion. Is this a great movie? No, it’s not. But I can see kids liking it. And when you have winters as harsh as ours, you need entertainment aimed specifically at getting us through it.
It’s cool you are proud Canadians. Seems like so many want to try to be American, especially actors who think the grass is greener south of your border.
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Well, Hollywood does happen to be located in California. I suppose that can’t be helped.
The rest of us would probably hate to be American, the guns, the violence, the politics. It all seems pretty scary from up here.
I am not impressed with my country. Too much violents, too many guns, too many tears, too much racism…it’s all too much.
Sorry but I am NOT seeing any movie where the dog dies. I am still traumatised from Hooch. Thanks for the heads up 🙂
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I am so proud of this blog, and all your reviews… merci, Jay
An animated Guerre Des Tuques?! Pauvre Cleo!
I know. Tragedy strikes again.
Yes! This is a blast from the past. Growing up in Ottawa, I too am quite familiar with the original movie. It was an amazing film that totally captures an era (and innocence). Now, I have to track down this new version. It sounds just as fun. Thanks for shining a bright nerdy spotlight on little indie gems like this.
well im glad you get to relive your child hood Jay, and you (and the Movie) most likely taught Matt and Sean a thing or 2, but i really dislike animation..of any kind. a great review though, so thanks.
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