Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe

Documentary | Not Rated | 90 min.


Galaxy Cinemas Fri, Oct 20, 2023 7:00 PM
Galaxy Cinemas Sun, Oct 22, 2023 1:00 PM
Film Info
Event Type:Feature
Release Year:2023
Production Country:Canada
Original Langauge:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Robert McCallum
Produced By:Mark J.W. Bishop
Aeschylus Poulos
Matthew Hornburg


Friday, October 20, 2023 – 7:00 pm; and
Sunday, October 22, 2023 – 1:00 pm
Galaxy Cinemas Barrie, 72 Commerce Park Dr, Barrie, ON L4N 8W8

This heartfelt documentary celebrates the life and work of Ernie Coombs, the iconic Canadian children’s television personality who encouraged generations of kids to be their best selves.

Robert McCallum’s documentary looks at the life and work of Ernie Coombs, the nerdy American artist who became one of the CBC’s most beloved children's personalities — a grown-up pal to kids across the country for nearly 30 years, both on his TV show and in innumerable public appearances. The film also explores the love story of Coombs, his wife Lynn, and their kids, who grew up sharing their father with every other child in Canada.

McCallum takes an almost cozy approach to the story, recreating the Mr. Dressup set (bringing in original puppeteer Judith Lawrence to play the beloved Casey and Finnegan for a framing sequence) and moving through Coombs’s life chronologically, mixing in archival interviews and behind-the-scenes footage while assembling a who’s who of Canadians influenced by the show: Michael J. Fox, Eric McCormack, Bif Naked, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Andrew Phung, Fred Penner, Barenaked Ladies, Graham Greene, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Jonathan Torrens, Yannick Bisson, and more.

There’s some nostalgia at play here, of course, and it just feels good to see beloved sets and props lovingly revived by McCallum’s team. But there’s more to Mr. Dressup — and this documentary — than a trunk and puppets and tinkly music: it’s about the importance of raising children with kindness, compassion, inclusion, and empathy, and encouraging them to explore the world and make it a little brighter. Some construction paper required.


Winner – People’s Choice Award - Documentary, Toronto International Film Festival, 2023

Screenings are General Admission.