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How did a maple syrup heist movie slip through our fingers?

Canada’s film industry has been scooped by Hollywood


 

We know the new film isn't starring Clooney and Pitt, but how can you resist this photo? (Taylor Shute/Maclean's)

Canadian filmmakers, typically, are great at telling our own stories. From biopics of our most famous figures (32 Short Films About Glenn Gould) to dramas examining our complicated past (The Boys of St. Vincent), homegrown directors have proved adept at shaping the country’s stories into distinct and sometimes sublime cinema.

So how did the CanCon industry miss a golden opportunity like the maple syrup heist of 2012? The caper—which caught worldwide attention in August 2012 when Quebec police discovered 10 million pounds of syrup was missing from a St-Louis-de-Blandford warehouse—has everything you could possibly want in a heist film. There’s a dogged investigation prone to bad newspaper headline puns! Dozens of arrests across Canada and the United States! A year-long manhunt that ended in Montreal for one particularly sticky-fingered suspect! Even Jon Stewart got in on the fun.

Yet Canada’s film industry has been scooped by Hollywood, as Sony Pictures announced this week that Jason Segel—the long-time Judd Apatow acolyte, and occasional Muppet enthusiast—would star in a comedy-drama based on the theft. While we’ll give Segel a pass (how could you not love a man responsible for this bit of whimsy?), the involvement of director Seth Gordon (Identity Thief) and screenwriter Chris Sheridan (Family Guy) does not inspire confidence.

And so Canadian audiences will likely have to endure a broad comedy with a generic tagline (“a sticky situation” or “a plan too sweet to fail” should do) and a romantic subplot probably scored to Adele. We shouldn’t be surprised, either, if the movie eschews filming in Canada and instead opts for New Orleans or Baton Rouge (where state tax incentives are too good to ignore). Why, the entire movie might take place not in Canada, but some other vaguely northern locale (Vermont, perhaps?).

But, because we’re Canadian and we love it when anyone from Hollywood sits up and takes notice of us, we’ll be good pseudo-patriots and trudge out to see the film regardless. We’ll whisper to each other when the script deviates from the news, and politely chuckle when some character actor like Steve Buscemi attempts an awful French-Canadian accent—actually, that would make the whole endeavour worthwhile.

Until then, though, we can only fantasize what the likes of Sarah Polley, Xavier Dolan or Guy Maddin could have done with the material. Sweet dreams, indeed.


 

How did a maple syrup heist movie slip through our fingers?

  1. Good lord, we are LOUSY at our own films! Some dull hinterland documentary isn’t going to take the world by storm.

    There are at least a thousand stories in this country that have never been told…on stage, screen or flat TV. It’s very depressing actually.

    Hollywood has always done this….and then we complain that it isn’t accurate!

    Singing mounties, the Devil’s Brigade, the Iran rescue…it’s a wonder to me they haven’t done 1812 with an American win!

    • You think there’s a thousand stories that have never been told on flat TV and for once you spavined old reprobate I agree with you.

      I just checked Emily and there’s 8,419 of them in your inventory alone.

  2. I wish the people who did Bon Cop Bad Cop would’ve stepped up to do a movie about the heist. That is easily one of the best Canadian movies I’ve ever watched, and whoever wrote the script for it has the perfect sense of humour for this story.

    • FUBAR: Balls to the Walls. Now that’s Canadian movie-making at its finest.

  3. Do we really care? Stolen maple syrup is so boring, it can’t possibly make for an interesting film. So let someone else do it, and bomb. It won’t be our embarrassment.

  4. Ironically enough not a mention to the fact that these days Canadian film directors are showing Hollywood how to make very good Hollywood movies. Quebec/Canada’s Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) and Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) are good examples. I’m not sure a maple syrup heist could make a good movie except if you turned it into an intelligent spoof about Canadian identity.

  5. Two reasons I think.

    Yes, the subject is boring and will probably make a bad movie.

    More importantly, as can be seen in the following link, this stockpile is actually a marketing board surplus being warehoused to support prices. Reporting on things like this could cast an unwelcome light on similar sacred cows in Canada, and in particular Quebec. It is easier and more politic to just leave it alone.
    Leave it to the Americans to expose these ‘Open’ secrets about Canada.

    http://www.canadianbusiness.com/companies-and-industries/the-great-canadian-maple-syrup-heist/

  6. I’m a Canadian screenwriter that already has written a script about this news story. In fact I registered my concept with the writers guild in February. I wasn’t trying to let this story slip out from under our fingers, however what am I supposed to do. Hollywood can just come in a make whatever they want when they want. They’ve got the money and they’ve got the lawyers to bury a guy like me.

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