Reel Toronto: National Lampoon's Senior Trip
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Reel Toronto: National Lampoon’s Senior Trip

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

Long, long ago, National Lampoon made a really fricking funny movie called Animal House. It spawned a kajillion imitators, many of which are churned out like so much sausage by the people at National Lampoon themselves. If you’re lucky you get something as mildly horrible as Van Wilder and when you’re really unlucky (or if you’re forced to sit through movies shot in Toronto regardless of how much they suck), you get Senior Trip.

So, the title really tells you all you need to know. It’s about a bunch of crazy teens (a rebel, a nerd, a slut, a slob, etc.—you get the idea) who go on a trip to Washington D.C., party hard, learn some serious life lessons, and teach us all about a little something called democracy.
Where to begin? How about their school? Yeah, here’s Danforth Tech standing in for whatever American suburban school they’re supposed to be attending.
Here’s a crazy scene where they drive a van into a quarry. Crazy! This li’l body of water is actually a gravel quarry up in Lemonville. Where is Lemonville, you ask? You know McCowan Road? Get out of Scarborough as fast as you can and take it north until it becomes super-lovely up in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Super-duper cinematic school bus trivia: The pivotal bus crash in The Sweet Hereafter was filmed at the same location!!
This being a wacky school trip and all, the kids end up at a fleabag motel, played by our very own Winchester Hotel. Thankfully, it’s been cleaned up a bit since this.
This part-ay is at the oft-used conservatory at Casa Loma. Is this a more egregious use of the site than the sitar jam in The Love Guru? You be the judge.
At the end, the kids go to the Senate or Congress or something. Whatever it’s supposed to be, this is actually the lobby of Old City Hall.
The exterior, however, has the distinctive weather beacon…
…and doors of the Canada Life building.
Sparing no expense in their re-creation of the Senate (or whatever), they also made use of the loading docks behind City Hall. (Right after going underground in this scene, they pull up in front of the Canada Life building but maybe that makes sense if you’re paying attention….?)
What more can we say? This film is in affront to your dignity and that of the people in it. Look what Matt Frewer is reduced to, for example.
Here’s Kevin McDonald, a walking, talking example of all the ways Hollywood failed to take advantage of the talents of virtually any of the Kids in the Hall.
And this guy—the bad-ass rebel? That’s Jeremy Renner, who might just squeeze out an Oscar nom for his appearance in The Hurt Locker this year. The school slut behind him is Tara Strong, a Torontonian who has since gone on to a good deal of success as a voice artist.
There’s proof that you can survive this movie. We did.