Tune-Deaf: Our Review of ‘The Meaning of Life’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 27, 2019
Tune-Deaf: Our Review of ‘The Meaning of Life’

If you’re a fan of Patch Adams (and really, who isn’t?) but thought it would be better with a whole bunch of bland acoustic-pop songs, then step right up to the plate – the new Canadian tearjerker The Meaning of Life is here to save the day (and some sick children, I guess) with the power of music.

Like any good slice of CanCon, The Meaning of Life takes place in some vague American suburb that I think is within some sort of proximity to New York but it’s hard to be sure. Within this defiantly non-Canadian location (it’s really just Oakville) resides recent high school graduate Finn (Tyler Shaw), an aspiring musician who is as plucky and fresh-faced as you’d expect a character with the name Finn to be. To get away from the heartbreak of his girlfriend dumping him to go off to university and the pressure from his father to go to law school, Finn takes a job at the local hospital to cheer up young patients with his music. He creates an alter ego named Pilot Pete and wears an outfit that’s could be described as “steampunk clown” and throws himself into the job enthusiastically.

After some initial resistance, Finn ends up forming a special bond with a young cancer patient named Sophia (Sadie Munroe) and her parents. Through the power of his charm and sappy ballads, he inspires Sophia to rediscover her love of painting in the face of such adversity. Meanwhile, Finn still doggedly tries to get noticed for his music, eventually landing an offer that could take his career to the next level. But as this also brings new complications into the mix, Finn must learn what life… truly… means.

Finally hitting theatres in Toronto two years after its film festival debut, writer-director Cat Hostick’s feature debut is really just a showcase for star Tyler Shaw, a Canadian singer-songwriter who won the MuchMusic Coca Cola Covers Contest in 2012 and has had two albums released in the years since. Apparently, he’s going on tour in October so I guess the timing’s right. As an actor, he’s good-looking and charismatic in a somewhat forgettable way but Hostick makes sure to give him plenty of chances to flex those musical chops, as he plays the guitar and belts out tunes to whoever will listen in much the same way as Shawn Mendes or Nick Jonas would. I’m not sure that this superficial and horribly-clichéd sick child dramedy is the greatest venue for him to brighten his star, though.

If all you want is a cheesy tearjerker, then eat your heart out. The Meaning of Life is essentially a Hallmark movie that’s sneaking into theatres for a week. Proceed accordingly.

This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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