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Wonder (2017)

Reviewed by: Sal Sabila

Wonder is originally based on the New York best-selling book “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio. It is rated PG and directed by Stephen Chbosky. It stars familiar faces including Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Mandy Patinkin. There is absolutely no smoking in the movie. We have encountered audience members of all different ages from infant-adults. Overall, this incredible movie can attract anyone’s attention due to its strong message of spreading kindness and love instead of judging each other for who we are. The plot of the story is surrounded by a boy named “August Pullman”, also known as “Auggie”, who has a face deformity due to Treacher Collins Syndrome. Auggie has never been to a regular elementary school until grade 5. His mother takes the first step by making the decision of sending Auggie to school. Even though his father was reluctant about sending Auggie to school at first, he manages to accept her decision. It was a difficult transition for Auggie. Due to his unique look, he is constantly made fun of by some of his peers. Eventually, people start to speak to him and realize that Auggie Pullman is a human being just like rest of them. Even though he looks a bit different from everyone else, he has dreams of becoming an astronaut, a strong aptitude for science and he loves Star Wars like a lot of us. The movie ends with Auggie Pullman attending his graduation ceremony where he receives a special honour for being very brave and courageous when faced with difficulty in life. One of the most important lessons that anyone will take from the movie is that “When you have to choose between being right and kind, choose kind”.

Was there any smoking in the movie? No, not at all.


Did the absence of tobacco affect the plot of quality of the movie? The absence of tobacco did not affect the plot or the quality of the movie at all.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? The characters did not appear any less believable for not using tobacco. Movies like Wonder try to promote positivity and love for each other. Smoking is not beneficial for our health in any way.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? I think one of the reasons why the movie-makers decided to keep it smoke-free is because the movie is intended for families to watch together. There is a lot to learn from this movie and smoking is definitely not one of the lessons that the movie-makers would like to promote.


Justice League

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Justice League (2017)

Video Review By: REACT Niagara Youth

Release Date: November 16th 2017

Rated: PG

Genre: Action, Superhero, Adventure, Fantasy Film

Was there smoking in this movie?


Please click here to see review!

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: Bodied

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Bodied (2017)

Reviewed by: William Godkin

Bodied was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was not given an official rating. It is a comedy and drama film directed by Joseph Kahn. Interesting to note that this film was produced by Eminem himself. Firstly, I do believe that it was a good movie although it probably won’t appeal to everyone’s tastes. I would rate this movie a 4 out 5. As there was tobacco presence in the film, it should be given an 18A rating. Aside from that, it was a good movie as it shows us as viewers a bit about the lives of battle rappers.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes there was.

tobacco impressions

Would you notice if the smoking was taken out of the movie?  No I would not notice.

What was your reaction to seeing the characters use tobacco? The few smoking scenes did not need to be there. For example, there was a scene where Behn Grymm vomits after he lights up a smoke. The reason I think that they did this in the movie was because a lot of people believe that smoking relieves stress, but in reality, smoking increases one’s heart rate.

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? No they did not.


Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: Porcupine Lake

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Porcupine Lake (2017)

Reviewed by: Darlene Lyon and Tyler Harnish (Hamilton Public Health Smoke Free Movies Project Lead)

Porcupine Lake is a Canadian drama film rated PG, it was premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is directed by Ingrid Veninger.  The movie weaves a story about two pre-teens learning to deal with life’s struggles which include dealing with family, relationships and friendships after Bea moves to Port Severn, Ontario with her mother, Ally. Bea is desperately looking for a friend in this new town, which she was able to find in a local girl Kate. Kate’s family has many struggles- her single mother is always hungover, a sister who is also a single mother, and her brother Romeo who has anger issues after a motorcycle accident. The girls both use their bravery to help them deal with all of the struggles they face during the summer before Bea returns to Toronto. The two become really close throughout the movie forming a really strong and unbreakable friendship even after both families try to pull them apart. Both Kate and Bea refuse to listen to their parents and continue to see each other. During all of this, Bea’s mother and father are constantly fighting over the diner her father inherited. Bea’s mother wants him to sell the diner and move back to the city to help the family.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes.

tobacco impressions

Who was smoking? Ally is the only person in the film Porcupine Lake who used tobacco. During the movie she smoked cigarettes twice- once during the beginning of the film and then another halfway throughout the movie.

What was happening in the scenes with smoking? During the scenes that had smoking in them both of them were when Ally was under stress about the girls’ relationship as well as the family issues happening.

Would you notice if the smoking was taken out of the movie? In my opinion the smoking did not need to be used throughout this film, it did not really have much of an impact on the film. In our opinion, the movie should use a rating of 18A, due to the content of the film.

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: The Mountain Between Us

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The Mountain Between Us (2017)

Reviewed by: Blessing Nkennor

The Mountain Between Us was premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is a romantic survival/adventure film starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. It is directed by Hany Abu-Assad and is based off a novel written by Charles Martin. It tells the story of a surgeon and journalist who survive a plane crash in the mountainous region of Utah and must rely on each other to survive. I really enjoyed watching this movie. Most of the movie contained both main characters, but they managed to sustain my attention throughout. A great mix of suspense, thriller, balanced with humour and light romance. I would definitely watch this movie again. It is also rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, injury images and brief strong language.

Was there smoking in the movie? No, it was smoke-free!


Did the character appear less believable/realistic because they did not use tobacco? Certainly not. I can’t imagine how tobacco use would’ve helped tell the story better. The characters appeared very realistic.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? There are several reasons why people smoke, and one of them might be due to stressful events. Both of the main characters went through very traumatic experiences throughout the film—from being stuck on a mountain without adequate food, to burying their pilot, almost falling off a cliff, and attempting to commit suicide. However, tobacco was not used as a coping response to stress, which is beneficial because if used, it might have given an unrealistic idea of when to use tobacco, without showing its associated health risks. This is especially beneficial for viewers who are not educated about the health risks of tobacco, or who are considering smoking.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? They chose to keep tobacco out perhaps because it would not have told the story any better. In addition, the Mountain Between Us is a romance-disaster film; I think the movie-makers were more focused on conveying the romantic outcome between the main characters.

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: What Will People Say

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What Will People Say (2017)

Reviewed by: Wendy Tu

What Will People Say premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and featured the life of a Pakistani-Norwegian adolescent girl growing up in Norway. She encounters cultural challenges and family disputes which prompted her father to send her to Pakistan to learn more about Pakistani culture. Against her personal beliefs, she chooses to follow her family’s wishes and get married in Canada to eventually become a housewife. She runs away from home, with her father’s silent understanding.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes, there were a few instances of tobacco use. The girl’s father was smoking outside of the convenient store with a few friends. Her grandmother in Pakistan smoked in front of the entire family exclaiming that it helped with her digestion. Her adolescent friends were also smoking at a social event.

tobacco impressions

Would you notice if the smoking was taken out of the movie? No, I would not notice.

What was your reaction to seeing the characters use tobacco? I reacted in a surprised way to see the adolescents smoking because they are so young. I was also surprised to see the grandmother’s reasoning for smoking (to aid in digestion).

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? They did not explain the health consequences of smoking. They kind of did the opposite when the grandmother was talking about the “health benefits” of smoking.

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: Black Cop

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Black Cop (2017)

Reviewed by: Sofiya Yamnyuk

Black Cop, a drama film presented at TIFF  2017 gave an eye opening view about current racial profiling and police violence. It is rated 14A and is directed by Cory Bowles.  This Toronto film follows a black cop around as he impulsively decides to treat white civilians as black people are treated. It has opened my mind about the discrimination that happens in our society today. It was accurately rated.

Was there smoking in the movie? There were no smoking occurrences in this film.


What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? With tobacco absent from the film, the atmosphere, plot and emotional connection in the movie did not change.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? Given the subject matter of the film, smoking would have not changed the emotional connection the audience felt with the topic of racial discrimination. The movie-makers decision to keep the movie smoke-free was a good one.

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: Brad’s Status

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Brad’s Status (2017)

Reviewed by: Neha Mahmood, Gulnar Qaiser, and Cris Orani


I really enjoyed watching the movie, Brad’s Status at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. The story of a man, experiencing an existential crisis, shows how we as a species have a tendency to look past what we have and wish for the unnecessary which we don’t possess; money, fame and luxuries, to name a few. So caught up with comparing himself to what seems like the “success” of his college peers, who he initially calls friends, Brad neglects to realize the potential of his son, Troy, who in his senior year of high school, is looking into attending prestigious schools, and has the potential to be accepted into Ivy League colleges such as Harvard University. As Brad’s focus attention drifts away from his insecurities and deepens into his son’s enrollment, he faces an epiphany of valuing the best in people, his wife, his son, himself. The moral of the story: ‘we are alive, and that’s what mattered’.

In terms of commercialized tobacco scenes, I was fortunate to not have spotted a single incident of someone smoking. There were, however, occasional scenes of pubs with alcohol and profane language thrown around while Brad confronted with people while being either not in the right mindset, such as with his son, or infuriated and on the journey to self-­‐discovery and self-­‐admiration, such as when really looking into his “friend’s” lives and re-­‐evaluating the definition of happiness. The movie was a real treat and as I have been doing, I will continue to recommend the movie to my peers. It was a special reminder about the luxury that is life itself.


Brad’s Status is about a man approaching his fifties, named Brad, who is beginning to feel jealous of all his college friends who have become successful billionaires and entrepreneurs. The film follows him as he visits universities with his son who is an A+ high school student looking to go to college in September. The movie does not visually show any tobacco products being used, but at one point a character (one of Brad’s successful friends from college) makes a reference to smoking. Also, there was one scene in which Brad is fantasizing about the children of these successful billionaires, and he imagines them snorting cocaine on a private jet with their family. This scene is meant to be humorous, as the child seems to be around seven years old and it is likely not true he is engaging in drug use. I think this movie, rated 14A, has the right rating, because there are scenes where sex is brought up and almost every character swears at one point. If there were to be onscreen tobacco use, I would definitely think this movie would deserve a rating of at least 18A. This movie is Smoke-Free!


Was there smoking in the movie? No, the movie had no smoking scenes in it.


Did the characters appear less believable/realistic because they did not use tobacco? The characters appeared to be as believable to any other characters in other movies. Smoking would not have changed anything to any character in the movie.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? The benefits of not having tobacco on screen would mean that people watching the movie wouldn’t be thinking of a cigarette.  If a person would be thinking of cigarettes it may cause them to purchase a pack themselves.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? I believe the movie makers decided to not include cigarettes in the movie is because it doesn’t add or take away anything from the experience and therefore not needed.

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: The Children Act

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The Children Act (2017)

Reviewed by: Shazia Khan

The Children Act had its first screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2017. The film is an adaption of the novel by Ian McEwan and stars Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, and newcomer Fionn Whitehead in the lead roles. Set in London, the plot revolves around High Court Justice Fiona Maye (Thompson) who deals primarily with family law cases. Most of these cases grapple with morally complex subject matter – during the opening sequence Fiona is to determine the fate of two conjoined twins who will die if not separated by surgery, whereas only one will survive if they are separated. The nature of Fiona’s work strains her relationship with her husband Jack (Tucci), who confronts her with his concerns for their loveless marriage and confesses his desire to have an affair. As Fiona deals with the aftermath of their confrontation, the case of Adam Henry is brought to her attention. Adam (Whitehead) is a 17 year old teenager suffering from stage-4 leukemia. While doctors insist that a blood transfusion will save his life, Adam refuses to undergo the procedure as they are Jehovah’s Witnesses and the mixing of blood is forbidden in the belief system. After hearing the opinions of doctors and Adam’s parents, Fiona decides to visit Adam in the hospital in an attempt to understand his perspective of the ordeal. Their meeting winds up deeply impacting both her and Adam, provoking a whirlwind of emotions in the boy and bringing to the surface Emma’s own repressed feelings.

The film contained riveting performances by the lead actors and was filled with profound insights on themes of religion, family, marriage, life and death, and medical and legal law. The nuanced direction beautifully captured the sensitive nature of the film. As a fan of Thompson and her work, I thought her portrayal of Fiona was her most powerful performance in many years. Her performance compelled me to reflect on the various roles and responsibilities that women are obligated to maintain in present society. Modern women are expected to build a successful career and simultaneously perform their duties as a wife and mother, whereas in the past women were only expected to uphold the latter. While Fiona was a reputable career and was renowned in her municipality, the nature of her work was emotionally draining and left her with little energy to consider the ramifications on her personal life. I also found it noteworthy that in the marriage depicted on screen it was the woman who was emotionally distant and the man who was pleading for reconciliation and making attempts to rekindle his relationship with his wife.

Was there smoking in the movie? No. In fact, there were no depictions of substance abuse, including alcohol and other drugs, in the film.


Did the characters appear less believable/realistic because they did not use tobacco? Not at all.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? Tobacco use is often a coping mechanism for adults undergoing stress despite it being obviously unhealthy. By omitting the depiction of tobacco use on screen, tobacco use is not perpetuated as a plausible coping mechanism to relieve stress and tension. The omission of tobacco use also helps to counter the view that tobacco use is normal and acceptable.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? In my opinion, the filmmakers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie simply because it had no significance to the film’s plot and added no depth to its characters.

Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: If You Saw His Heart

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If You Saw His Heart (2017)

Reviewed by: Tarnem Afify

If You Saw His Heart is another TIFF Film debuted at this year’s festival. Directed by Joan Chemla, the film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a petty gypsy thief hiding out in a derelict motel called Metropole. There he crosses paths with a beautiful stranger, Francine, and while she appears to be just as lost in this brutal underworld as he is, she may just prove to be the very person who can save him. The film starts off with an extended wedding sequence where we see Daniel hanging out with the groom, Costel. The two are best friends and belong to a gypsy community situated in the South of France. Once the party is over, the script flashes back-and-forth revealing how Daniel lured Costel into a life of crime and feels responsible for his accidental death.

Even though there is an evident art form in the pictures used as well as harmony between the colours in the background and the scenes’ atmosphere, I would not recommend the movie. It lacks smooth transitions between its events and has an open ending that does not make sense! Its fragmented narrative seems to be trying to compensate for the shortage in its content. It has a slow progression in the events that leads to an ending that is not much different from the beginning. Finally, the movie not given an official rating. However, based on the violence, sexual content, and tobacco presence throughout the film, I would personally rate it 18A.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes. The movie contains tobacco, lots of it.

tobacco impressions

What was happening in the scene with smoking? It starts off with scenes from Costel’s wedding and impressively enough, the first scene is of a magician using a cigarette as a tool to perform magic tricks! Smoking and drinking are displayed in the movie, as a source of entertainment during these gatherings. Smoking especially, is illustrated as a tool for reliving stress, sadness, feelings of confusion, and negative emotions. Characters smoke when thinking about their current situations, future and fate, as well as a mean for relaxation.

What was your reaction to seeing the characters using tobacco? I was shocked that the movie had included a scene of children and youth smoking. This scene was very unnecessary and the only clear message it is delivering is the normalization of smoking among children and youth. Even though most of the audience in the theater were adults and it may appear that the movie was not directly targeting youth, it is clear that the point of such a scene is to normalize the act of youth smoking among parents, teachers, supervisors, and those who support, guide, and teach youth.  All in all, it was disappointing to see smoking in If You Saw his Heart and it was obvious that the industry was using the movie as a means to promote its products. If smoking was taken out of the movie, it would have given the actors more room to use their skills and talent to contribute to the plot and produce a higher quality work.

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? The real consequences of using tobacco are masked and falsified when the movie displays smoking as a necessity for life and equated it with food and drinks.


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