Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: Angels Wear White

                                               Angels Wear White

Angels Wear White (2017)

Reviewed by: Vedant Kochhar (YATI Volunteer)

Angels Wear White premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is the first Smoke-Free TIFF Movie Review. The film brings forth critical social issues which include child sexual abuse, violence against women, prostitution, and the corruption present within society. The film is in Chinese with English subtitles. It was released on September 7th 2017 at film festivals throughout the world. The film stars Wen Qi, Shi Ke, Geng Le, and many others. It is interesting to note that due to its festival release, the film’s rating was labelled STC (Subject To Classification) as it was not yet rated. However, I found that in the movie, there were mature scenes found at various points throughout the film. And so, I would rate this movie 18A. The story revolves around two schoolgirls –Wen and Xin, who are assaulted by a powerful middle-aged man in a motel. Mia, a teenager who was working reception that night, is the only witness. For fear of losing her job, she says nothing. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Wen, one of the victims, realizes that her troubles were just beginning.  Trapped in a world that seems to be very evil, these two girls must both find their way out.

The movie starts off by having short and cut off scenes of different angles of a big statue of Marilyn Monroe, and the main character Mia is shown staring at this figure. In the Q & A session that followed the movie, the director Vivian Qu shared an interesting anecdote while working on the script for this film. She read a newspaper article of a Marilyn Monroe statue being moved out of a small town in China. The residents of the town posted messages all around saying “Don’t go Marilyn!”. This deep interest in the statue stuck with the director, and she asked a few of her own female friends about what they thought of the news. One of them responded that Marilyn meant everything to her but love.

Angels Wear White is a foreign film which provides other parts of the world an insight into the state of affairs in China, and the struggles that women face in particular in a patriarchal and sexist world. It opens up the audiences’ appreciation of a more accepting country like Canada where these social issues may be considered less prevalent.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes.

tobacco impressions

Who is smoking? The police officer, Wen’s mother and father, and the thugs.

What was happening in the scene with smoking? The police officer smoked cigarettes whenever he was stressed, or right after arguments. Wen’s mother smoked after she was given more information regarding her daughters’ case. She also smoked whenever she would feel guilty about her daughter’s situation.  The thugs smoked out of habit.

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 using tobacco –  I thought that the tobacco usage in the film, went with the flow of my understanding of tobacco usage. It is unpleasant, it is destructive and the characters who used it, were villainous. I would rate this movie 18A so children and young viewers are not exposed to the tobacco found present within the film.

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? No, it did not show the health effects, but it did show some social consequences of broken relationships, irresponsible people, and chain-smokers instigating their partners to smoke, corruption, and marital instability.

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle (2017)

Reviewed by: Vedant Kochhar (YATI Volunteer)

The Glass Castle is a film memoir that is based on a true story and is rated 14A. It was released on August 11th  2017. The film stars Brie Larson (Jeannette Walls), Woody Harrelson (Rex), and Naomi Watts (Rose Mary) and many others. It is based on Jeannette Well’s own life story. It is symbolic of a child’s imagination, a father’s inability to provide, and a family’s hope that keeps them alive and happy despite the most difficult circumstances. Throughout the movie, there are scenes which contain inappropriate matter for young children, or have very disturbing images of abuse and injury. I believe the rating is appropriate. The movie shows the life of Jeannette Walls, and her dysfunctional family and their life squatting in different homes across the country. Jeannette has many flashbacks throughout the film which show the hardships she and her siblings faced in their childhood. Hardships which included having an alcoholic father who would use all their savings for alcohol that directly resulted in their inability to purchase food, afford basic necessities, and have a roof over their head.

The movie starts off by showing the life of the mid-20 year old Jeannette Walls working in her newspaper office as a columnist. She reflects on her life and how she and her 3 siblings were forced to take care of themselves and raise each other as their free-spirited and responsibility-averse parents both inspired and inhibited them. Their father, an ex-pilot for the United States Air Force, was a brilliant man who effortlessly taught his children about physics, geology and how to embrace life without fear. But, when he drinks, he became a very destructive and dishonest man. His alcoholism blinded his judgement and as a result, he hurt his entire family in the process. The film was beautifully directed as the audience was able to view the film from Jeannette’s perspective.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable film. It is able to portray many messages to those watching. Viewers are hooked to the film due to the constant change in the setting, and the fast pace of this movie.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes.

tobacco impressions

Who was smoking? The main character Rex as well as several non-credited extras were found smoking cigarettes throughout the film.

What was happening in the scene with smoking? Rex would casually smoke cigarettes on a regular basis. However, it was more prominent during days when he was stressed or angry.

What was your reaction to seeing the characters using tobacco? Due to the face that Rex had an alcohol addiction, it just added to the fact that he had an addictive personality and how his substance abuse was used as a way to avoid his responsibilities.  It also could be related to his army background as he was an ex-pilot, and smoking was a very common vocation back then. However, while it added to the flaws of his character, it is important that the rating then be adjusted to 18A or R so youth who are viewing the film are not exposed to the dangerous habit.

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? No, it did not show the health effects or consequences of tobacco use, but it did show the complications and effects of alcoholism on his body.

Wonder Woman


Wonder Woman (2017) 

Reviewed by: Donna Pan (Program Assistant at Youth Advocacy Training Institute)

Wonder Woman is an action/adventure, war, and science fiction film rated PG-13. It was released on June 2nd 2017 and is the fourth installment of superhero films based off of DC Comics. The film gained popularity and became one of the highest grossing movies that had both a female director-Patty Jenkins, and female lead- Gal Gadot. The film also stars Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, and more. As it is set during the war, I do believe that the rating is accurate due to the mature content and violence that is prevalent throughout the film. With that said, it is a beautifully constructed film that celebrates the power and abilities of women- a message that should be shared amongst all girls.

The film begins with Diana (Wonder Woman) reminiscing about her origins as an Amazonian princess on the island Themyscira. She is told from a young age that Ares is an enemy that works to destroy humankind and so, her mother has always worked to ensure that Diana is isolated from the rest of the world. When Steve Trevor, an American spy, crashes into the water, Diana rescues him and learns about the First World War and believes it is Ares that is causing this violence. The two set out to London, and learn that the German army is working to release a deadly gas as a weapon. Against the Supreme War Council’s orders, they compile a team and head out to Belgium to find Ares and prevent the gas from being released.

Wonder Woman keeps all viewers anxiously rooting for the protagonist to save the day or in this case the world. My favourite part of the film is how Gadot embodies every aspect of the modern day heroine. She is hopeful, unapologetic and quirky to boot. Not only does she catches Trevor’s eye she also leaves every character she interacts with in awe. Time and time again she proves her worth as a strong woman in an unequal world. Moreover, many of the Amazonian women on the island that raised Diana are also fierce women of colour which once again directly contrasts with the patriarchal and white society that is the backdrop for the war.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes.

tobacco impressions

Who is smoking? Extras throughout the film are found smoking cigarettes.

What was happening in the scene with smoking? Smoking was found in the battlefields and army camps.

Was smoking necessary for the characters in the movie? Smoking was absolutely unnecessary for these characters.

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

What was your reaction to seeing the characters use tobacco? I was initially not surprised when I saw that there was smoking in the film because I do understand historically, it was popular for soldiers to smoke during the war. However, as a DC Marvel movie that is aimed at a general audience, it is disappointing to see extras smoking even if it was for brief moments. If cigarettes cannot be purchased in Canada until the legal age of 18, smoking should not be found in movies that are not rated R. It is completely fair to ask that ALL smoking be eliminated from popular films that are meant to attract younger audiences especially when there is conclusive data that a correlation exists between smoking in movies and youth recruitment.

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? No, the movie did not show the health effects or consequences that come with tobacco use. There really was no point in having tobacco present in the film other than giving the audience members a perceived message that the writers are pro-tobacco which again play no role in helping Wonder Woman defeat the antagonist and end the war.

Spider-Man: Homecoming


Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Reviewed by: Donna Pan (Program Assistant at Youth Advocacy Training Institute)

Spider-Man: Homecoming is an action, adventure and science fiction film rated PG-13. It was released July 7th 2017 and is directed by Jon Watts. It is another revival based on the Spider-Man franchise created by Marvel Comics and stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover and many more. As it follows Peter Parker’s life in high school, I would say that the target audience would be for all ages with a focus on teenagers as they can relate to the protagonist.

In this latest coming of age remake, Peter Parker is desperate to earn his title as a true avenger by working to please his mentor Tony Stark. Like any superhero, he puts the needs of his community first and is constantly caught in an internal conflict between his priorities and fighting against crime. With great power comes great responsibility right?  Young Spider-Man must look beyond the needs and problems that come with the average 15 year old. In the film, he finds himself head on with Adrian Toomes who is selling advanced lethal weapons after his salvage company was put out of business by Stark Industries. Does Parker choose between helping his decathlon competition win nationals or does he put justice first? What about attending homecoming with the girl of his dreams or bringing down Toomes before he successfully hijacks the weapons of Avengers Tower?

Like any Avengers film, Spider-Man: Homecoming is jam packed with action. While it was incredibly exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, I would not recommend this film for families with younger children as some of the fight scenes were a little intense. The general age range of audience members would be 8+ years. The most enjoyable part of this film was watching Peter Parker continuously persevere even after he was fired by Tony Stark for meddling. He followed his heart and initial gut instinct and took down Toomes the right way- he could’ve left him to die after the materials began to explode, but Peter still chose to save his life and safely leave him to the police. What is interesting to note is that at the end of the film when Tony Stark finally offers Peter a full-time position as one of the Avengers, he respectfully declines as he chooses to focus on other after school hobbies like a regular teenage boy. I would definitely recommend this film to others and I am excited to see the future sequels that will be each follow a new school year for Peter Parker.

Was there smoking in the movie?


Did the character appear less believable/realistic because they did not use tobacco? No.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? Having little to no drug or alcohol present in films that are intended for all audience members is crucial in ensuring that younger generations are not influenced by this exposure. Especially when the protagonist of the film is a 15 year old superhero, younger audience members will look to Spider-Man as a role model. Who doesn’t want to be an avenger and fight crime? With that said, as a role model, it is important that Spider-Man embodies every aspect of that.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? I believe they chose to keep tobacco out of the film because it truly is not necessary to develop the plot or character. At the same time, parents who want to take their children to come see the film would have been deterred had there been tobacco present within the film. Drug and substance abuse in movies has proven to increase the uptake of smoking within youth demographics and so it is highly discouraged across all boards and I am sure it played a role in the movie-makers’ decisions to keep tobacco out of sight.

Cars 3

Cars 3 Movie Poster

Cars 3 (2017)

Reviewed by: Nicole Croes

Cars 3 is a G rated animated action family movie. It was released on June 16th 2017 and is directed by Brian Fee.  It stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Cristela Alonzo, Kerry Washington, Larry the Cable Guy and many more. Given its rating, the film is meant for audience members of all ages and this was demonstrated through the 4-30 year old age range of those who were in the theatre.

Cars 3 is a fun family oriented film that delivers excitement to its viewers throughout the film. The movie shows the cycle of “human” life in years (in a way of saying). Since the first movie Cars, was all about one famous race car competing with his competitors, and would still end up being the best race car at the end of the movie. However, Cars 3  weaves a story of friendship between a rookie and its mentor, and illuminates the value in having someone out there in the world that looks at what you can do best and that also makes sure you know it. It’s all about giving back to others what you used to be best in. It is all about making your dreams come true, by putting all your efforts in making someone else’s dream come true while you both share the same dreams.

What was most enjoyable about the movie was that as one of my favourite childhood films, Cars 3 was the one I’ve loved the most due to the story behind it. It shows that friendships can last a long time; it shows that most people should have a mentor like person in their life who can teach them the same things they have in common. It gives me hope in believing that, even though you’re aging, you can still have as much fun by providing what you knew best, to someone that is now learning/discovering what they can do. Besides the expected “bad guys” (or cars) in the film, I don’t think there is one thing I did not like about it.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this film to others. Every one of all ages should watch this film!

Was there smoking in the movie?


Did the absence of tobacco affect the plot or quality of the movie? No.

Did the character appear less believable/realistic because they did not use tobacco? No.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? It was good that I didn’t see any tobacco on screen because knowing myself, I would always cringe in a children’s movie when I see any sort of drinking/smoking. It just doesn’t seem right in a movie that is catered for all ages. It might also be good for the viewers to not see tobacco use in movies because then it won’t raise any questions from adolescents at such a young age.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? I believe they chose to keep tobacco out of the film because of their target audience. Most of their target audience for this movie are children. They could have lost a lot of viewers by having tobacco use in the film. The very first Cars was such a tremendous hit that they HAD to be careful with the finale for their franchise.

Boss Baby

Boss Baby ENG

The Boss Baby (2017)

Video review by : Sudbury District Youth

Release Date: March 31st 2017

Rated: PG

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family Film

Was there smoking in this movie?


Please click here to see review!

A Dog’s Purpose


A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Video review by: Niagara Region Youth

Release Date: January 27th 2017

Rating: PG

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family Film

Was there smoking in this movie?


Please click here to see review

Smurfs: The Lost Village



Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)

Reviewed By: Sal Sabila and Randall Perando

Smurfs: The Lost Village is a computer-animated adventure comedy movie. It was released on April 7th, 2017. The movie features celebrities who are the voices behind the animated characters. Some of these stars include Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Julia Roberts, and more. The movie was directed by Kelly Asbury and produced by Jordan Kerner and Mary Ellen Bauder Andrews. The Ontario movie rating for Smurfs is G, which means the movie is appropriate for all audience. The general age of people in the theater was mostly 3-8 years old.

The smurfs are small, blue, and human-like creatures who live by their moral values of honesty and helpful nature. They live peacefully in Smurf Village surrounded by mushroom-shaped houses and big trees. One of the protagonists is Papa Smurf who is the leader of the village. He is wise, elderly, and loving despite his overprotective character. Some of the main characters include the Clumsy Smurf who is easily afraid of a lot of things yet still determined to help a friend in trouble. The smurf “frenemies”, Brainy Smurf and Hefty Smurf, added more fun in this reboot movie. The dynamic between the tech geek, Brainy, who relies his survival strategies on books versus Hefty who mostly cares about his muscles was definitely entertaining to watch. The only girl in the Village and blonde beauty, Smurfette, was created by Gargamel. Gargamel is the antagonist of the movie whose purpose is to capture all smurfs and become the most powerful wizard in the world. If you are wondering how can Gargamel become powerful from smurfs then you need to watch out for that part.

We found the movie heartwarming and uplifting because the movie sends an inspirational life motto: It doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is what you choose to be. We would definitely recommend this movie for the smurf fans, the young, and the young at heart.

Was there smoking in this movie?


Did the absence of tobacco affect the plot or quality of the movie? The absence of tobacco did not affect the plot at all. Smurfs is an adventure movie for children. Adding a smoking scene for this movie would be unnecessary and unhelpful in telling a better story.

Did the characters appear less believable/realistic because they did not use tobacco? The characters did not appear less realistic because of the absence of tobacco use. Throughout the movie, Brainy has scenes where we could see him reading books and using gadgets. Like the rest of the smurfs, Brainy’s character is very straightforward. So, adding a scene of a smurf smoking tobacco would be inconsistent with any character. But if the movie had Gargamel smoking then the message would be also harmful to children and inconsistent to his character. Gargamel is resourceful and is not as glamorous as Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians. In addition, smoking as part of his character is contradictory to tobacco industry’s glamorization of smoking.

Why do you think the movie-makers chose to keep tobacco out of this movie? The movie-makers chose to keep the movie tobacco-free for the target audience who are children. The most audience for this film is under the age of 10. The movie focuses on the altruistic behavior of smurfs and Gargamel’s obsession with power. Tobacco use on the movie would show glamorization of smoking which is unfitting for any character.

What are the benefits of not having tobacco present on the screen? One of the benefits is that anyone can watch it and parents would not have to worry about their children getting influenced by tobacco use after watching this movie.



Sing (2016)

Reviewed by: Tarneem Afify, Lamar Afify and Sal Sabila

Sing is a 2016 American computer-animated musical-comedy film featuring the voices of Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Hudson and many more. It was released on December 21st by Universal Pictures. “Sing” was released in Canada on September 11th through Toronto Film Festival. The movie personifies different animals with different personal attributes.

The movie starts with a koala bear, called Moon, trying to save his theatre with a singing competition. When printing out the flyers, instead of $1,000 koala’s assistant manager accidentally typed $100, 000 (extra two zeroes) which highly encouraged animals from all over the city to gather for audition with high hopes and dreams. Koala doesn’t realize the mistake until a friend of his shows him the flyer. After the audition, about 5 solo singers have been chosen to sing at the final competition. All these singers have different background and different obstacles that they overcome to participate in the competition. After realizing the mistake, Moon did not want to upset anyone. So, he decided to keep the mistake a secret. Will he be able to tell them the truth, and will the competition go on?

Liked/disliked and would we recommend it to others?

We liked the movie because it had an important lesson to it that is: “keep working hard to pursue your dream”. However, the movie could’ve been more creative, it seemed too simple. Definitely recommend to watch as a family.

Was there smoking in the movie?


No, there were no tobacco instances in the movie! Moon looked like he was smoking when he was feeling sad that his theatre was in trouble. However, it was just a pen in his mouth.

La La Land


La La Land (2016)

Movie reviewed by: Jenny Bui

Movie Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance Musical

Ontario Movie Rating: PG-13

Opening Date: December 16, 2016

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt

Director: Damien Chazelle

General age of people in the theatre: 20yrs+

Was there smoking in the movie? There were several instances (<10) of cigarette smoking throughout the movie.

tobacco impressions


La La Land is a musical about a relationship unfolding between two artists, an aspiring actress and an aspiring jazz musician, who happen to cross paths at just the right moments in time. Throughout the movie, the audience will come to discover that this is more than just a romance flick at surface level—there are themes strongly linked to bravery and perseverance.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are one of my favourite on-screen couples and I believe that their compatibility truly shines through in this movie, especially during the magical scenes where they’ve perfected synchronized dance routines in tap dancing shoes! I’m also not the type of person to choose a musical as one of my top movie options, but watching La La Land was definitely a game-changer (disclaimer: this is coming from someone who last watched the High School Musical series) and a choice that I do not regret in the slightest.

The presence of tobacco use occurs several times (<10) throughout the movie and involves background characters smoking cigarettes. In one scene, there appeared to be an individual smoking amongst a small crowd of non-smokers. This movie does not show the real health effects and consequences of secondhand smoke, which is a very important issue to discuss because the aftermath of secondhand smoke exposure is largely misinformed and considered underwhelming compared to firsthand smoke. After witnessing that scene, I felt discomforted because the portrayal of secondhand smoke was not taken seriously. I have no doubt in mind that the audience wouldn’t have minded if the smoking was removed from that scene because the primary focus was on the main characters and the developing story line. Overall, the occurrence of smoking in this movie was largely unnecessary and I would strongly encourage movie-goers to think about the real health effects and consequences of smoking while watching.