Every once in a while, a Canadian production will come along that can stand on its own merits. Almost exclusively, these are restricted to the small screen: Anne of Green Gables (at least, the first two, until Kevin Sullivan decided that he knew Anne with an E better than L.M. Montgomery did), The Beachcombers, Kids in the Hall and the first two Degrassi series chief amongst them.
One Week does not fare as well. Its heart is in the right place, and the Canadianisms that are prevalent throughout the film are fun, but in the end, it suffers from not defining itself. Is it a relationship drama? Is it a road movie? Is it Dying Young?
In One Week, Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson) will travel from Toronto, ON to Tofino, BC in one last quest for adventure after a diagnosis of terminal cancer. In one week, he will absorb the culture across his homeland, he will live every moment as if it is his last, and he will make some decisions that he has long been avoiding. First at hand is his engagement to Samantha Pierce (Liane Balaban), a decent, lovely young woman who Ben is very comfortable with. Is that enough?
On his path to self-discovery, Ben encounters a range of stereotypical Canadians: a woman who has resigned herself to a hard life on a farm, a free-spirited singer (Emm Gryner), a fellow biker and cancer survivor (The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie) who gives Ben something to think about. From Toronto to Tofino, Ben also encounters a plethora of things that are uniquely Canadian, including (but not limited to): Tim Horton’s Roll Up the Rim, Canadian Tire, Terry Fox, the Stanley Cup, Canadian folk songs, the Presidential Suite at the Banff Springs Hotel, the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis, and the odd but true Canadian fascination with over-sized representative objects.
The best part of One Week is its soundtrack. Ben’s journey ends the way it is expected to; writer and director Michael McGowan does not present much of a challenge here. Still, for geography geeks and fans of Canadiana, One Week offers some nice roadside scenery. It just isn’t the most exciting trip in the world.