Making the Grades
It's surprising that we have never had a movie previously (that I know of anyway) that has explored the relationship between Americans and Canadians. I still don't know if Canadian Bacon has really accomplished that goal, but it does provide a couple of funny moments of comparison.
John Candy, in his final movie appearance, plays Bud Boomer, a tired Niagara Falls US sheriff. A weapons manufacturing plant is about to close in the Falls, putting hundreds out of work. The mass depression case that has hit the community provides Boomer with a new source of income as he is paid a bonus for every suicide he pulls from the river.
Meanwhile, after the president (Alan Alda) visits the community, he is left wondering how he can get the weapons industry, which was booming during the cold war days, back on track, as well as score some points in the popularity polls. Soon top advisors provide the solution -- fake a major confrontation with Canada. Not the real thing, but just enough to get the public believing that the president is able to solve a crisis. The only problem is that Boomer doesn't know the confrontation is a hoax, and determines to take on Canada where he believes his girlfriend Honey is being held hostage.
For the couple of comedy nuggets that are found in this film, you have to wade through a great deal of foolishness. Alda is like a Ferrari in a funeral cavalcade. He seems to run circles around the rest of the cast, and tries so hard with what little script he has, that a poorer actor would probably make the sloppy writing less obvious.
Yes, the story here is ridiculous, and it's a shame. There are many funny opportunities in contrasting American and Canadian culture, but it seems the film's creator Michael Moore (Roger And Me) wasn't familiar enough with the differences between Yankees and Canucks to fully exploit the idea's potential. With Canada's continued fascination with trying to keep up with the Americans, this is probably one movie that should have been written by a Canadian. After all, is there a country that laughs at itself more than us?