The Suburbanators

Director: Gary Burns
Screenwriters: Gary Burns

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Gary Burns’s hip first feature film, The Suburbanators, is sure to yank Calgary out from under the shadows of the foothills. This film re-defines youth boredom in the ‘Burbs and gives deadpan comedy new meaning as it tracks a day in the life of three sets of young men who shuttle between the malls.

Al and Bob, both white and clean-cut, drive around talking mostly about women and procuring weed until they decide to go for a haircut. Neither looks like he needs one, but it’s a sure way to kill a Saturday afternoon. Carl and Eric, similarly white and bored, look as if they could use haircuts. They are more intent on acquiring something to smoke, even if it takes all day on foot to get it. Salah, Kareem, and Rodger, meanwhile, are not white, speak no English, and are in a fix. Salah’s girlfriend has locked him and his musical instruments out of their apartment. The three Lebanese musicians, who have a gig that night, cross town by bus in search of a key.

The paths of these young men are bound to cross. Burns’s keen ear for comedy and insight into the inconsequential lives of his protagonists lie at the heart of the film’s success. Without artifice or pretense, Burns uncovers humanity where you least expect it, in a place where nothing ever happens and boredom is a worthy pursuit.

— Sandra Cunningham, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

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