How did a maple syrup heist movie slip through our fingers?

Canada’s film industry has been scooped by Hollywood
We know the new film isn't starring Clooney and Pitt, but how can you resist this photo? (Taylor Shute/Maclean's)

Canadian filmmakers, typically, are great at telling our own stories. From biopics of our most famous figures (32 Short Films About Glenn Gould) to dramas examining our complicated past (The Boys of St. Vincent), homegrown directors have proved adept at shaping the country’s stories into distinct and sometimes sublime cinema.

So how did the CanCon industry miss a golden opportunity like the maple syrup heist of 2012? The caper—which caught worldwide attention in August 2012 when Quebec police discovered 10 million pounds of syrup was missing from a St-Louis-de-Blandford warehouse—has everything you could possibly want in a heist film. There’s a dogged investigation prone to bad newspaper headline puns! Dozens of arrests across Canada and the United States! A year-long manhunt that ended in Montreal for one particularly sticky-fingered suspect! Even Jon Stewart got in on the fun.

Yet Canada’s film industry has been scooped by Hollywood, as Sony Pictures announced this week that Jason Segel—the long-time Judd Apatow acolyte, and occasional Muppet enthusiast—would star in a comedy-drama based on the theft. While we’ll give Segel a pass (how could you not love a man responsible for this bit of whimsy?), the involvement of director Seth Gordon (Identity Thief) and screenwriter Chris Sheridan (Family Guy) does not inspire confidence.

And so Canadian audiences will likely have to endure a broad comedy with a generic tagline (“a sticky situation” or “a plan too sweet to fail” should do) and a romantic subplot probably scored to Adele. We shouldn’t be surprised, either, if the movie eschews filming in Canada and instead opts for New Orleans or Baton Rouge (where state tax incentives are too good to ignore). Why, the entire movie might take place not in Canada, but some other vaguely northern locale (Vermont, perhaps?).

But, because we’re Canadian and we love it when anyone from Hollywood sits up and takes notice of us, we’ll be good pseudo-patriots and trudge out to see the film regardless. We’ll whisper to each other when the script deviates from the news, and politely chuckle when some character actor like Steve Buscemi attempts an awful French-Canadian accent—actually, that would make the whole endeavour worthwhile.

Until then, though, we can only fantasize what the likes of Sarah Polley, Xavier Dolan or Guy Maddin could have done with the material. Sweet dreams, indeed.