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Make it a Double-Double, Eh

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Thanks to popular sequels like Goon: Last of the Enforcers and Bon Cop Bad Cop 2, sometimes Canadian cinema can be twice as nice...

Canadians clearly don’t have a problem getting more of the same, provided they liked it the first time...

The sight of Canada’s hockey dream-team fighting it out with the Soviet elite was so exciting in 1972, organizers staged a sequel two years later. The Blue Jays liked winning the World Series so much in 1992, they did the same in 1993. And 10 years after the original kids of Degrassi Street graduated in 1991, they went back to school with a whole new crew of youngsters (including one who’d grow up to be Drake).

Canadians clearly don’t have a problem getting more of the same, provided they liked it the first time — we feel the same about maple-glazed doughnuts, too. Yet we rarely seem to get Canadian movies with a “2” in the title.

Maybe the problem is that sequels seem too Hollywood for the more modestly scaled film industry north of the border. Whereas the U.S. studios pour the vast majority of their resources into movie mega-franchises with comic-book heroes and YA dystopias, producers here can seem hamstrung by smaller means and ambitions.

But judging by new efforts to capitalize on the popularity of homegrown hits, that notion’s out of date. Last year’s Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 was the successor to the 2006 hit that put an unabashedly Canuck stamp on the buddy-cop movie. Quebec superstar Patrick Huard and the Stratford Festival’s own Colm Feore once again represent the country’s two solitudes in a high-octane crowd pleaser that delivers thrills and jokes in both official languages.

For Canadian viewers who prefer their action on ice, the recent Goon: The Last of the Enforcers is writer-director Jay Baruchel’s sequel to the raucous 2011 comedy that starred American Pie’s Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt, an endearingly dim-witted hockey enforcer.

Launched with big — and equally un-Canadian — marketing campaigns, both movies counter the presumption that artistic concerns always trump more commercial ones when it comes to this country’s cinematic output. Yet sequels are really not such an uncommon phenomenon. For one thing, the highest-grossing Canadian-made movie of 2017 was also a sequel: De Père en flic 2, a follow-up to a buddy-cop comedy that slayed audiences in Quebec in 2009. In fact, Quebecers have long flocked to sequels, so even if we don’t often see a “Part Two” in a title, we get plenty of “Partie Deux.”

Whether the examples are French or English, most of the Canadian films that have given rise to sequels play to particular tastes rather than aiming for something wider.

The trouble is, movies like 1997’s Les Boys — a monster hit about an amateur hockey squad, which spawned three sequels — cater so much to local tastes, they’re all but unknown to anglos. Nor do the Québécois know much about the few franchises that crop up in English Canada, where movies that earn sequels have generally been comedies like the Trailer Park Boys big-screen spinoffs or FUBAR, the headbanger mock-doc classic by original Goon director Michael Dowse. Sadly, we were robbed of the Strange Brew sequel long sought by devotees of Bob and Doug McKenzie when financing for the film fell through right before it was to begin production in 1999. Thankfully, fate was kinder to follow-ups for such cult faves as Cube, Ginger Snaps, Hard Core Logo, and, most recently, WolfCop.

Whether the examples are French or English, most of the Canadian films that have given rise to sequels play to particular tastes rather than aiming for something wider. Maybe figuring out ways of getting the whole country on board is the real key to success. Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 and Goon: Last of the Enforcers certainly double down when it comes to very Canadian content. Huard and Feore relish the opportunity to trade cusswords in French and English (nearly every line starts and ends with a “tabarnak!” or a “calice!”). Other examples of only-in-Canada comedy include jokes about curling and small-town American cops who mistake Huard’s joual for Swedish.

With Scott again joined by Quebec star Marc-André Grondin, Goon: Last of the Enforcers boasts a mix of gags in English and French, too. Making his directorial debut after co-writing and starring in the first Goon, Jay Baruchel stuffs the movie with the sort of dirty jokes and dirty fights that hit the sweet spot of dudes who grew up on Don Cherry’s Rock’Em Sock’Em Hockey. It’s a movie that knows its audience, just like the sport it loves. After boasting that dramatic new developments in Doug’s division mean “the whole world is watching,” a character feels the need to make a correction: “Maybe not the world. I mean, Canada, probably. And, like, three or four states.”

So while Canadian sequels might not be able to compete with Hollywood franchises, they can shore up loyalties that audiences here might feel for homegrown content. That said, follow-ups might not be right for every great Canadian movie — moviegoers might not be asking for Sarah Polley’s Take This Other Waltz or Xavier Dolan’s Mommy Partie Deux. But I’d love to find out what happened next with the characters in C.R.A.Z.Y. and The Grand Seduction. And if Porky’s and Meatballs merited sequels, surely the best of a far less embarrassing era for Canadian cinema deserve them, too.

Jason Anderson writes about movies for Cinema Scope, FFWD, and the Toronto Star.