Canadian Bacon (1995)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

My Bloody Valentine

The Food of the Gods


Canadian Bacon

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Our rating: three LAVA® motion lamps.

John Candy leads his patriot
buddies into Canada.
If Canadian Bacon is any indicator, Michael Moore is trying to destroy Western civilization -- one brain cell at a time. Moore's first foray into fictional movie-making (after the documentary Roger & Me and TV series TV Nation) is a collection of terrific one-liners strung on a fairly lame plot.

In an attempt to raise his ratings in popularity polls, the president of the U.S. (played by Alan Alda) fabricates a cold war with Canada. Why Canada? Because Russia won't play anymore. As the Russian President says: "We already gave up! You won! We are too busy trying to perfect universal indoor plumbing!" Canada, then, is the next best thing to a real enemy.

Again, the main joke isn't that funny, but the smaller jokes that result provide some laughs. The anti-Canadian commercials, in particular, are quite funny.

"Think of your children pledging allegiance to the maple leaf. Mayonnaise on everything. Winter 11 months of the year. Anne Murray -- all day, every day. The Canadians. They walk among us. William Shatner. Michael J. Fox. Monty Hall. Mike Meyers. Alex Trebek. All of them Canadians. All of them here."

Unfortunately, there are a few Americans who get so caught up in the hysteria that they take matters into their own hands. Bud Boomer (John Candy) leads a commando party to the other side of the border to litter in a public park. In a scene lifted from Monty Python's Life of Brian, two mounties catch the group and then argue over the grammar of their commands to cease and desist.

Honey wakes up in
a Canadian hospital.
The group escapes, leaving behind one of their number, named Honey (Rhea Perlman). When the President catches wind of the fact that Honey is being held by the Canadian government, he issues an ultimatum: "Surrender her pronto, or we'll level Toronto." Meanwhile, the military tycoon whose plant was shut down when the cold war with Russia ended has plans to make a bundle by framing Canada as real bad guys.

It's too bad the rest of this movie wasn't nearly as funny as the one-liners. This is mostly the fault of the script; the situations these characters are thrown into just aren't funny enough to save it. The movie is essentially a vehicle for Moore's biting observations about the two cultures, delivered via the mouths of the characters. Fortunately, he's an equal-opportunity offender, trashing Canada's politically correct laws and apparently too-too-polite society while portraying Americans as idiots in the same scene. There are twice as many jokes that way.

Moore's inevitable cameo is just as uninspired as the overall script. There might as well be words ticking across the bottom of the screen that say: "Attention! Mr Moore is now acting! Look at him fake interest in the man he is interviewing when he is actually waiting for his cue! Now watch him pretend to be a good ol' boy!" It's phony, and we can tell it's phony.

If you're a fan of Michael Moore (and we count ourselves as such), Canadian Bacon is well worth a rental for his patented corporate/societal humor. You can count on a laugh about every minute or so from a wisecrack, but wisecracks do not a comedy make.

Own it!

Review date: 04/16/1997

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