Shoot First, Translate Later.Bon Cop Bad Cop
is a Canadian Buddy Cop
movie by Erik Canuel focusing on an Odd Couple
formed between a French-speaking cop from Quebec and an English-speaking cop from Ontario.
It starts out with a dead body that has been found hanging from a street sign demarcating the border between Ontario and Quebec. Da Chiefs
of both provincial polices, eager to foster the spirit of cooperation and to keep this case out of the federal RCMP's hands (so it looks good come budget times), assign two of their officers as partners to crack the case. From the Sureté Du Québec
is David Bouchard (played by Patrick Huard), a chain-smoking, rules-breaking violent Cowboy Cop
with an attitude. He finds himself partnered with Martin Ward (Colm Feore
) of the Ontario Provincial Police
, a "square-head" whom even his son finds dull.
Much of the movie's humor comes from how it plays with the stereotypes English-speaking Canadians have of French-speaking Québécois
—and, of course, vice-versa. The movie guest-stars numerous personalities from both sides of Canada such as Rick Mercer as an Expy
of Don Cherry
and Louis-José Houde as a Motor Mouth
The movie billed itself as a bilingual movie as both cops will often switch between each others' languages. It thus came with subtitle tracks for whatever language wasn't native to where it was released. The movie was a commercial success, and is Canada's highest (or, adjusted for inflation, third-highest) grossing movie.
The movie contains the following tropes:
- Bilingual Bonus: The movie is best appreciated with a proper understanding of both English and Quebec French, since the subtitles tend to have problem showing the colorful Quebec swearing. See the language course scene.
- At one point, the coroner mentions that Rita the barmaid's name backwards is "à tir". Literally meaning "to pull", this is Quebecois slang for "getting with someone". This is not explained in either language during the film, but insinuated that the French audience would get it.
- Bilingual Dialogue
- Bilingual Backfire: Turns out Martin speaks French just fine, though with a strong Parisian accent.
- Buddy Cop Show
- By-the-Book Cop: Martin.
- Canada, Eh?: The film plays with the stereotypes Canadians have about themselves and one another. For example, the plot revolves around hockey, and the two main characters are living embodiments of how their people are often seen by the other group:
- David the Québecois is in an overly emotional, anger-prone man with no respect for authority with a low-to-middle-class appearance.
- Martin the Ontarian is neat, by the rules, traditional and boring while projecting an upper-class "better than you" image.
- Captain Ersatz: The filmmakers obviously couldn't get the rights to the names of real National Hockey League teams, so equivalents to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche are used. NHL Ceo Gary Bettman appears as Harry Buttman.
- Cluster F-Bomb/Gratuitous French/Angrish: "Shit de fuck de shit de merde de shit de câlisse de TABARNAC!"
- For context: in Quebec, swearing in largely based on corruptions of religious references, and can be strung together with the word "de" ("of"). While the phrase above doesn't really translate, if you're familiar with the cultural background the "Tabarnac" at the end is the biggest bomb of the bunch.
- Cool Big Sis: Cool Little Sis, in fact. Martin's little sister is much cooler then he is.
- Cowboy Cop: David. As the film goes on, Martin starts becoming one.
- Criminal Mind Games: The Tattoo Killer's MO.
- Da Chief: Two of them, for the SQ and the OPP.
- The SQ Chief is particularly fun — imagine Da Chief, with RAEG set on eleven, looking like he's about to have five simultaneous heart attacks from yelling "TABARNAK!!!" almost loud enough to rip his vocal cords, and with plenty of Franglish to boot.
- Deadpan Snarker: Both cops, though with his more restrained attitudes, Martin does it more often.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
You can't put me in a car trunk!
Oh, yes we can. It's a Quebec tradition!
- To those who might not be up on Canadian history, please see Pierre Laporte and the October Crisis.
- Random "oh-God-do-we-love-Tropers" fun fact: Hatchbacks are more popular in southern Quebec than anywhere else in North America.
- Eagleland: The obnoxious, Texas-accented American hockey tycoon, who loudly says "I'm gonna make hockey as Texas as a big fat American steak. Not that poison Canadian shit."
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Vive le Québec libre!
- This phrase is another reference to Canadian history. It was made during a 1967 speech in Montreal by France's then-president Charles de Gaulle. His use of that phrase was seen as encouraging the Quebec sovereignty movement, and caused a significant diplomatic incident with Canada.
- Fun with Foreign Languages: Depends which language is foreign to the viewer.
- Fun with Subtitles: In theatres, the French version has subtitles over the English dialogue, with the reverse being true for the English version. On DVD, there are six subtitle tracks: two for each language (either for the whole film or just for the parts in a different language); one track for French subtitles during the French parts and English subtitles during the English parts; and one for French subtitles during the English parts and English subtitles during the French parts. The all-French track exists to allow speakers of native French to watch the film.
- The extra fun in-film happens when Martin reveals that he's fluent in French. Each half of his Take That line is in a different language; and in the Québec version of the film, subtitles in French appeared during the language switch:
Martin: Non, je ne parle pas français. Je me suis fait installer un petit gadget au cerveau and I see subtitles under people when they speak. (No, I don't speak French. I had a little gadget installed in my brain et je vois des sous-titres sous les gens quand ils parlent.)
- Good Cop/Bad Cop - The method itself is not used, but the movie's title is a play on this. Bon is French for Good.
- Ironically, the French cop would probably be the bad one if they did decide to play Good Cop, Bad Cop. Then again, Good Cop, Mauvais Cop doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Unsurprisingly, a corpse impaled on a billboard can't support the weight of two grown men hanging from either side.
- Hidden Badass: He may look like a gay accountant, but we can assure you, he's
not an accountant former bomb squad.
- I Have Your Wife: Daughter, actually.
- Intoxication Ensues: Burning cannabis farms is fun!
- Jurisdiction Friction: At the beginning, when they find the corpse on the Québec/Ontario border. The corpse's waist and legs are on the Ontario side, his head and torso is on the Quebec side. The cops start arguing who should handle the case.
Martin: His heart is in Québec.
David: Ya l'Ontario dans l'cul aussi! (Translation: He's got Ontario up his ass)
David: But his ass belongs to you.
- And the whole cooperation thing starts because their bosses don't want the RCMP (the federal police force, in case you were wondering) to get involved.
- Ludicrous Gibs: What happens to the Tattoo Killer in the end.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: Just look at the page image.
- Missing Mom: Martin raises his son alone, since his wife left them to marry a British noble.
- Motor Mouth: The (French-speaking) Coroner, lampshaded even:
Martin: I'm sorry but I didn't get half of what he said...
David: (In French) Don't worry, me neither, but as long as we got different halves we're good.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: « Matthieu aussi »
- Justified. Bouchard is encouraging the girls (using the word "girls" specifically), so he still has to encourage the lone boy in the dance class too.
- The Napoleon: Buttman
- Not So Different: Both Martin and David are obsessed with the past, (which is also a commentary on the stereotypes they embody), especially past tragedies in the forms of their respective broken marriages. Something the villain also shares: He focuses on how hockey as changed.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In addition to the thinly disguised parodies of NHL teams, several characters are obviously based on hockey personalities:
- Harry Buttman is obviously NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
- Likewise, Rick Mercer plays an Ersatz of Don Cherry, an infamous hockey commentator.
- And many of the victims of the Tattoo Killer are ersatzes of NHL team owners and officials.
- Odd Couple: Both cops represent regional stereotypes as seen from the other part of Canada. The Quebecer David is a disorganized, rude, foul-mouthed cowboy cop who lives in the past (appearing to never have gotten over that his wife divorced him) whereas Martin is boring and obsessed with the rules.
- Oh, Crap: David gets a few: One when he realizes he's late for his daughter's ballet recital, and two when he realizes that the Tattoo Killer has made it personal by kidnapping her after his accomplice attacks Martin in his own home.
- Plot Hole: There are a tonne of these, including:
- Why did the first body get dropped from a helicopter, other than to lead the cops right to the pilot?
- Why did the Tattoo Killer kill Rita? There wasn't anything she hadn't already told the police.
- Rita's death actually raises a whole host of plot holes; the killer would've had to have been in the bar when Martin and Ward showed up, followed them after they left, gone back to the bar, kidnapped Rita, picked up a bomb, gone back to the car, broken into the trunk, pulled someone out and put another person in while it's parked in front of a public school, then driven away. And, again, all for what reason?
- Who was the Tattoo Killer? He's given no real motivation, and he's actually given no backstory whatsoever.
- Even worse, there's a hint that he has a backstory; Bouchard comments on his strange accent, which sets up a revelation that's never actually revealed.
- What did the apple/dollar sign/99 tattoo mean? Who was the next target?
- What is Bouchard doing in Toronto when the next victim turns up? Martin has only just confirmed it's a related case, so it's not like he could be there because of it. Did he just miss Ward, or what?
- Why do Ward and Bouchard go on Tom Berry's show? Why are they even in the studio in the first place?
- They were there because the next victim was the planned guest on the show.
- Why does the Tattoo Killer go after Ward and Bouchard's families? He says it's to keep them from interfering, but the cops have been a step behind the whole movie, and have just hit a complete wall in their investigation. He has no reason at all to fear their involvement.
- Punk in the Trunk: Complete with lesson on how to swear in French.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: It depends on the version you're watching, since the movie is bilingual. For the English version, the scene with he French coroner is untranslated and passes by quickly. The French cop later admits he didn't understand what was said, either.
- Rock Star Parking: Bouchard hurriedly parks in an handicapped spot right outside the front of the school when he is late for his daughter's ballet recital. Predictably, it gets towed. Unpredictably, it explodes.
- Serious Business: The Tattoo Killer murdered people he thought were killing hockey in Canada by trading the best players to the States.
- Take That:
: How come you have such a strong accent in English and
French? Who was your teacher? Jean Chrétien?
- Also one to Angelina Jolie. In regards to a nicely-dressed victim's post-mortem tattoo.
Ward: Ça fait pas très classe. (Not very classy.)
: Angelina Jolie... elle en a, des tattoos. (Angelina Jolie, she's got tattoos.)
Ward: My point exactly.
- Tempting Fate: “The good news is, it can't get any worse.”
- Theme Naming: All the targeted hockey executives are given names like Buttman and Grossbut (pronounced "grow-buu"; it's French!) You know, butt-related names.
- Wire Dilemma
- You Gotta be Fucking Kidding Me: Ah, Famous Last Words.