Take Off, Eh!? Celebrate The Greatest Canadian Hoser Cinema

Contributing Writer; Toronto, Canada (@triflic)
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Hoser (hōz ´әr): noun. 1. A clumsy, boorish person, especially an uncouth, beer-drinking man often clothed in a flannel lumberjack coat, Kodiak boots and a toque. 2. What you call your little brother when your mother isn't in the room. 3. A highly amusing subgenre of Canadian Cinema (i.e. Hoser Film) often containing a dark, yet poignant undertone.

The Cinema of the Great White North is casually ignored by citizens of its own country and more often than not, the rest of the world with only a few points given for occasionally getting embraced in France. Many of the films made here are just American studio productions looking for tax breaks where production designers dress up Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto to look like cities south of the border. There are, of course, a few celebrated auteurs steadfastly working in the Canadian system: Denys Arcand, Claude Jutra, David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin and Atom Egoyan. This article is not about them.

Rather it is about a very small subgenre of films that is unabashedly Canadian and has quietly and pleasantly persisted for decades: The Hoser Film. Movies of this sort feature the clueless loser (or buddy losers) who wanders through adult society oblivious to his buffoonery but certainly unwilling or unable to ever to grow up and join the norm.  These stories not so much fish out of water as the mouse in bottle of Molson Canadian. While Adam Sandler may do the stunted man-child shtick, the Canuck way of doing this has a bit more subtlety and a bit more style. Below are a few vintage (and a couple quite new) entries worth introducing yourself to, especially if you have in interest in broadening your cult cinema horizons (in a modest, maple-syrup and back bacon-fat fashion).

Strange Brew

The patron saint of Hoser Films. Spawned from cult sketch comedy show SCTV, the comedy here goes from high-brow to low-brow in a heartbeat as we follow Bob and Doug Mackenzie in their eternal quest for free beer (The mouse in the bottle gag works every time.)

They take a job at a Toronto brewery which is owned by an evil brewmeister played by Max Von Sydow. Yes, the man who played chess with the devil in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal is plotting to take over the world with drugged beer and has hockey player thugs (looking somewhere between the NHL and Star Wars) to help him along. The shock treatment scenes with Bob and Doug are comic gold.

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