On Thursday night, film execs, stars and media will pack the red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall for the opening night gala of the Toronto International Film Festival. As is tradition, TIFF has picked one film to start the festivities. Last year, Creation, the yawn-inducing Charles Darwin biopic, was given the honour. This year’s choice is the oh-so Canadian Score: A Hockey Musical, starring none other than Olivia Newton-John. In Saturday’s Globe, Rick Groen pondered whether Score is the worst movie to ever open the film festival. His answer? Probably.
“Score is parochial in the worst sense—maybe a Winnepegger will love it, but a Parisian or a Roman, who wouldn’t know a Zamboni from a zabaglione and is given no reason to care, assuredly will not. Similarly, the celebrity cameos that dot the film, the likes of Walter Gretzky and Theo Fleury and Evan Solomon and George Stroumboulopoulos, aren’t exactly world travellers either. Stick the two Georges—ours and Clooney—on the TIFF red carpet, and guess who the paparazzi, including the Canuck paparazzi, will be mobbing?”
Good point. If we look back at opening night movies of the past, some of the best Canadian-made films are ones that don’t hit viewers over the head with a hockey puck. The Sweet Hereafter, Les invasions barbares and Water are three good examples; Paul Gross’s Passchendaele, on the other hand, was less than lauded. But it’s not just overtly Canadian films that have made audiences cringe: 1982’s Aussie period drama We of the Never Never was too rooted in Australian heritage for a North American crowd. Maybe Score can ride out the Glee effect by being so bad it’s actually good. We’ll keep an eye on the reaction. In the meantime, check out our roundup of the best and worst films to ever open TIFF.