Film / Canadian Bacon

"Canadians. They walk among us."

A 1995 geopolitical comedy film written and directed by Michael Moore, starring John Candy, Rhea Perlman, and Alan Alda.

In the wake of the unexpected end of the Cold War, the sitting President of the United States, a milquetoast bumbler played by Alan Alda, is faced with a shrinking economy and high unemployment at home. Believing, rightly or not, that restarting the Cold War and the associated military-industrial complex at full steam will be just the right kind of economic stimulus, the President's advisors, in cahoots with a shady weapons contractor, try to get the Russians to play ball. When they say no, they decide to invent a fictitious conflict with their neighbor to the north, Canada.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Bud Boomer (Candy) of Niagara Falls, New York, has to deal with the unpleasant realities of the loss of his town's primary employer; he, his deputy, and all his friends lost their factory jobs when the Cold War ended. When the government spin doctors put out the news of the Canadian menace, he buys it completely, and sets about fortifying his town as a border defense against the coming invasion.

The film is notable as John Candy's last starring role and Michael Moore's only non-documentary feature. Plus a magnificent throwaway line, especially considering the director, about the absurdity of a situation as comparable to declaring war on terrorism. Which they wanted to do to increase the approval rating of the president. In 1995!

Following the huge critical and commercial success of Moore's first movie, Roger & Me, Canadian Bacon represented something of a Sophomore Slump (getting mostly mixed to negative reviews and fizzled out of theaters three weeks after its arrival, during which time it grossed less than $179,000), and along with Kevin Smith's Mallrats (another big-budget flop made by another member of the "Indie Film Boom" crowd of the late 1980s and early '90s) helped nearly bankrupt Gramercy Pictures (until they quickly got back on their feet with Dead Man Walking). It's become more appreciated with age, though, especially in the 21st century as some of the satire has become a little prophetic-seeming.

This film contains examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: The president faces this constantly.
  • Author Appeal: Michael Moore loves Canada and is critical of the American military. So you get the entire country of Canada as The Woobie to America's military-industrial complex bullying, and scenes like an American soldier shooting another because he stubbed his toe and was holding up the mission.
  • Berserk Button: Don't insult Canadian beer. And definitely don't insult Canadian beer in a hockey arena.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Khabral is worried this will happen to him. They even mention the trope word for word, and the conversation Khabral, Bud, and Roy Boy have about it includes several notable examples of it.
  • Canada, Eh?
  • Creator Cameo: Michael Moore appears as a member of an anti-Canadian mob.
    It's time we put America back in North America! GOD BLESS BUD BOOMER!!!
  • Cold War: They want to start another.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Two of the guys in Canadian prison were arrested for putting leaded gasoline into an unleaded tank, and being in too many bad moods.
    • A lesser example with the third guy, who liquidated a smaller company, then merged it with his conglomerate. He gets hit with a shock stick and the guard obviously hates him the most.
    • But the woman who commits the worst crime in Canada gets a free mental health examination. What's with that?
  • Do Wrong, Right: Canadian cop pulls the main characters—who are driving a van covered with anti-Canadian slogans—over, then criticizes them for not writing them in both English and French. The anti-Canadian slogans are even translated with grammar and spelling mistakes.
  • Defcon 4: The level taken when nuclear missiles are ready to launch.
  • Eagleland: Flavor 2, quite convinced they're Flavor 1.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Smiley is willing to start a cold war, but draws the line at starting a nuclear war.
  • Excuse Me Coming Through : Hilariously subverted during a chase scene, when bystanders say "I'm sorry" and "Excuse me" as they're being knocked out of the way.
  • Invaded States of America: Played for laughs.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: Unsuccessful.
  • Most Common Card Game: The Mountie plays it with his prisoners.
  • Neat Freak: In Canada, littering is punishable by a $1-million (Canadian) fine.note 
  • No Name Given: The president is never named.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted by the Omega Force. One guy stubs his toe and is shot by his comrades as a result.
    • Played straight, however, when our heroes take off for America after doing their dirty work—and mistakenly leave Honey behind.
      Roy Boy: We left a man behind! Boomer left a man behind!
      Khabral: The Marines never leave a man behind!
      Roy Boy: Chuck Norris never left a man behind!
      Khabral: Wesley Snipes never leaves a man behind!
      Roy Boy: She's all alone, behind enemy lines.
  • Our Presidents Are Different
  • Serious Business: Canadian beer is taken very seriously in Canada. If you insult it, you will cause a riot.
  • Strawman Political: Boomer and Honey are stereotypical boorish blue-collar conservatives. General Panzer is a stereotypical right-wing warmonger. The President is a stereotypical spineless liberal weenie.
  • Suicide Dare: The US city of Niagara pays its cops extra for cleaning up suicides. This led to unfortunate consequences...
  • That Came Out Wrong: The president, at the now out-of-business munitions factory in Niagara Falls: "It's time to turn off the war machine and turn on our children."
    • "Turn on our children."
  • War for Fun and Profit: Hacker wants profit. General Panzer wants fun.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue:
    The body of R.J. Hacker can be viewed daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Republican National Headquarters.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: Without the Russians to blame everything on, the president's approval ratings are in the toilet. To rectify this (and return profitability to Hacker's weapons company) they plan to start a new one.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Everyone. Except maybe Hacker and Smiley.