An uninspired comedy that squanders its potential
“The Man From Toronto” strives throughout the film to establish a cohesive tone. It seems determined to be a serious spy thriller, but it also seems like it’s aiming to be a straight-up comedy. That’s not to say these two things can’t go together — they can — but “The Man From Toronto” never makes the balance acceptable. Hart’s character Teddy is always cracking jokes and delivering one-liners, but no one around him ever seems to notice, letting his lines linger in the ether, making punch lines dead on arrival. Things look up when Harrelson and Hart’s characters finally get together, and their chemistry is really strong, but a lackluster storyline lets them down at every opportunity. There are running gags that were only moderately funny at first (looking at you, non-contact boxing), but these gags are repeated, to satiety, to the point that what should be a gratifying gain does not land. That’s to say nothing of the story itself, which takes a fun storyline and doesn’t make it anything original or creative, instead relying on tired plot beats you’ve seen before, done better. somewhere else.
The city of Toronto has an interesting relationship with film. Many studios flock to the Canadian city and surrounding areas to film in order to take advantage of the tax breaks, but the city serves as a substitute for other US cities like New York and Chicago. As someone born and raised in a city not far from Toronto, I was thrilled to see the big city take center stage for once. I should have known better, because the city is presented as itself in exactly three quick shots before it becomes an American city again.
There’s really no reason the film can’t have some great moments in Toronto, since the actual plot is so anonymous that its paint-by-numbers approach would work the same in any location. Once again, the lack of attention to detail rears its ugly head, as the town’s name is mispronounced time and time again – excusable when your main character isn’t from town, but when Harrelson is literally the Toronto man, the least they could do is realize that no one pronounces the second “T”.