TIFF 2013: Everybody Sing!


Sunshine on Leith is a singin, dancin, kilt-wearin hoot.
  • Sunshine on Leith is a singin', dancin', kilt-wearin' hoot.

Here's a sentence that I didn't expect to write anytime soon: I saw two crackin' good movie musicals today.

One was not exactly a classical musical, but music is the central theme and there's plenty of singing. The second was the most unexpected musical I've seen in some time, yet it had all of the trappings of classic song-and-dance.

In one of the opening scenes of Sunshine on Leith, we see two Scottish soldiers home from the war in Afghanistan walking the streets of Edinburgh in their fatigues. They're talking about how glad they are to be back home when they spontaneously burst into song. And it's not just a line or two... it's a full-throated pop song. And then there's another and another as each of the film's characters sing about their joys or sorrows. And here's the kick: none of it is cringe-worthy. I looked around the theater a number of times to watch audience members bounce in their seats or even sing along. Eat your heart out, Mama Mia.

All of the songs were written by Craig and Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers, who had that great 1988 hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" on their album, Sunshine on Leith. Some of the new film's songs are re-orchestrated from some of the original album cuts.

Sunshine on Leath (the movie) is clean, crisply edited and a real audience-pleaser. I double dare you not to sing along, or at the very least, download the soundtrack once you leave the theater.

James Corden stars in One Chance.
  • James Corden stars in One Chance.

At still another screening of the Toronto International Film Festival (for yet another musical) a gaggle of papparazzi went nuts when Taylor Swift walked the red carpet prior to the premiere of One Chance (Swift co-wrote and performed the song for the film's closing credits).

But the real cheers went out for a couple of pudgy gents: James Corden (you may know him from BBC's Gavin and Stacey) and Paul Potts, whose life is the centerpiece of One Chance.

Potts was a down-on-his-luck cellphone salesman in the tiny English town of Port Talbot who skyrocketed to fame when he won the 2007 edition of Britain's Got Talent with an amazing operatic voice. He went on to tour the world, sell millions of records and perform for Queen Elizabeth.

It was pretty swell watching adoring Toronto movie fans along the red carpet look beyond Swift to get an autograph from Potts.

Potts is played by Corden with a perfectly light comic touch and he's surrounded by a fabulous supporting cast: Alexandra Roach as girlfriend Julie-Ann, and Julie Walters and Colm Meaney as Potts' mom and dad.

"Couldn't you just eat him up?" asks Mom.

"You'd need a couple of sittings," deadpans Dad.

The whole film is delicious and even though we already know there's a happy ending, it's well-worth the journey.