Where the Cult Classic Strange Brew Was Filmed in Toronto
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Where the Cult Classic Strange Brew Was Filmed in Toronto

Cooooo-roo-koo-koo, cooooo-roo-koo-koo

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As we did with the Police Academy films, we decided it was high time to revisit one of the earliest Reel Toronto columns, taking advantage of all the wonders of technology and information now available to us. It’s probably the only major motion picture to have its climax in Kitchener, Ontario, and with Oktoberfest just around the corner, what better time to take a proper look at The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew.

By all rights, this movie should not exist. It’s a meta-textual comedy that randomly borrows plot elements from Hamlet, in which the main characters are basically a one-note joke (but a good one!). And yet, there is something bizarrely endearing and ambitious about Strange Brew that, more than 30 years on, makes it eminently watchable.

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Apparently you can watch the opening, and lots of the rest on YouTube but the movie opens with Bob and Doug (more or less) screening their terrible Star Wars rip-off…

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…at the University Theatre.

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It’s a great chance to see the box office and Bloor Street facade…

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…as well as the no-longer-existing side alleyway, all of which are (gulp) now incorporated into Pottery Barn. Heritage preservation isn’t our strong suit, eh, but we’ve cornered the market on facadism!

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Anyway, having instigated a riot, Bob and Doug head for their car…

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… which is parked across Bloor…

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…on St. Thomas.

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Then the titles kick in and they start driving through downtown!

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They go along King, past Old Ed’s…

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…and they go through Chinatown

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…and, somewhat oddly, even past this joint that used to be in Hamilton. (And, yes, a reminder that Ian Thomas of “Painted Ladies” fame is Dave’s brother.)

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Max von Sydow’s credit (!!!) covers what is otherwise obviously the Toronto skyline, complete with CN Tower.

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Finally, they arrive at their house…

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….on Uno Drive in Etobicoke.

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You can see the street better in the day later in the movie. (He’s not in this shot but Max von Sydow has been to Etobicoke, people!)

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When their dad (unseen, but voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc) runs out of beer, they head out to the local Brewer’s Retail, where they sell ale and lager. Wow. Except, it’s not called “Brewer’s Retail” because they didn’t want to use the real name in the movie, except now “The Beer Store” is exactly what it’s called, so joke’s on you, massive and oppressive multi-national beer overlords! Or on us? There’s definitely a joke somewhere, anyway.

Not so local, it’s actually way out in Scarborough on Eglinton by Midland. Just look at that 1980s beer store selection! More lagers and ales than even Kim Mitchell could handle.

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And the prices! (It’s kind of funny because there’s a real Beer Store right around the corner from their house.)

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Three of the film’s key locations are supposed to be right next door to each other and you can see them in this (special effects-aided shot). The Elsinore Castle, the Elsinore Brewery, and the perfectly named Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane; each more recognizable than the next! The castle, obviously, is Casa Loma.

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The brewery—and we confess we missed this the first time—is the exterior of the Hearn Generating Station.

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And the hospital…

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…is actually the RC Harris Filtration Plant.

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If the Internets are to be believed, the interior of the brewery office is this random auto parts place in Rexdale. Do jokers show up at Carquest with mice stuck in beer bottles? Someone knows for sure.

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Anyway, there’s a big chase scene when they leave the brewery. It’s hard to tell where this is, but you can kinda make out the CN Tower back there.

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Then we start getting closer to the McKenzie house, heading into Etobicoke along Lake Shore…

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…past the landmark Canadiana Lounge.

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And up to The Queensway by Royal York

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…then turning towards Uno from Royal York.

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Then, after a stop at the house, the chase resumes…

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…and for some reason….

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….we head out of town…

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…and find ourselves driving down the mountain, in Hamilton.

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And then, next thing you know…

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…we’re in the Toronto Port Lands…

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…and flying into the harbour.

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This courthouse, with its distinctive Brutalist exterior…

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…is the Etobicoke Board of Education building. Heck, you can even see part of the sign!

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And the finale, as we mentioned off the top, is supposed to be at Oktoberfest, way over in Kitchener.

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But it’s actually the Humber-Lakeshore campus (at the time, the abandoned Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital). You can even see the main building from Police Academy back there!

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There’s probably something that explains how a Peel Region cop is involved in a chase that went from Toronto to Kitchener but let’s not over think it.

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