Hollywood North
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Sometime in the 70s, American filmmakers began flocking to Canada to make their films—because it was cheap. Toronto became “Hollywood North.” And as Americans started making more movies in Toronto, a few Canadians decided to get in on the scene, too…

In 1979, former lawyer Bobby Myers (Matthew Modine) decides to get into the Canadian film industry—to make the movie version of Lantern Moon, a well-loved Canadian novel. But before he can get his investor (Alan Thicke) to fork over the cash, he has to find a Big Name Hollywood Star. So he travels to Hollywood and meets with Michael Baytes (Alan Bates), an aging (and somewhat paranoid) star who might be willing to make the film—as long as he gets to approve the final script before filming begins.

It isn’t long before Myers’ production flies wildly out of control. Baytes turns out to be of questionable sanity—and his rewrites turn the film from a touching drama into Flight to Bogota, an action film with a strong pro-American political message. (One of my favorite lines from the movie is Myers yelling, “They sold me a defective star!”) Toronto is hit with a freak snowstorm in August, which delays filming. One of the actors decides to do his own stunts and is in a major accident, which means that he has to be replaced. The leading lady, Gillian (Jennifer Tilly), has a reputation for sleeping with her co-stars. Myers’ partner spends most of his time in Baytes’ trailer, doing coke. And it’s all being caught on film by Sandy (Deborah Unger), another filmmaker who’s in charge of the making-of movie.

Hollywood North is a little bit campy and a little bit over-the-top—making it a whole lot of funny. The characters—especially the psychotic Baytes and the befuddled Myers—are fantastic. And the film’s climax is unbelievable. Sure, the movie does an excellent job of making Americans look like insane, sex-crazed, ultra-political drug addicts. But we are talking about American movie stars here—so it seems to make perfect sense to me.

My only complaint is that the conclusion falls a little short. After such a spectacular climax, I expected a more interesting denouement. That, however, is rather insignificant. As a whole, Hollywood North is a fun, quirky movie—and it’s well worth checking out.

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