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Canadian Bacon

U.S. Movie poster for Canadian Bacon
Directed by Michael Moore
Produced by Michael Moore
Written by Michael Moore
Starring Alan Alda
John Candy
Bill Nunn
Kevin J. O'Connor
Rhea Perlman
Kevin Pollak
G.D. Spradlin
Rip Torn
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
Cinematography Haskell Wexler
Editing by Michael Berenbaum
Wendey Stanzler
Distributed by Gramercy
Release date(s) September 22, 1995
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11 Million

Canadian Bacon is a 1995 comedy film taking a side ways swipe of the Canada – United States relations along the United States-Canadian Border written, directed and produced by Michael Moore. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival[1], and has the distinction of being the final completed film to star John Candy (despite having been filmed before Wagons East!).

Contents

Plot

A former employee of R. J. Hacker (G. D. Spradlin) named Roy (Kevin J. O'Connor), nicknamed Roy Boy, attempts to express his grudge against Hacker for closing down the factory where he worked by duct taping himself up inside a car and taping a piece of paper reading "SEE YA IN HELL, HACKER!" to the windshield. He tries to drive over the edge of Niagara Falls but is stopped by the fence. He then climbs out of the car and hops over to the fence to jump over, but the duct tape catches on and sticks to the fence, keeping him at the top.

Meanwhile, at the bottom are US sheriff Bud B. Boomer (John Candy) and his deputy, Honey (Rhea Perlman). They have been assigned to convince former employees of Hacker who were laid off when the factory closed down out of jumping over the edge. They will be awarded $25 for every success and, absurdly, $50 for every failure if they manage to retrieve the body.

Needless to say, instead of talking them out of committing suicide, Boomer and Honey try to get them to take the plunge until they spot Roy Boy at the top and recognize him as their buddy. Honey stops him by shooting him in the shoulder. They pick up Roy Boy at the top and take him to a presidential speech.

When they get there, instead of the president, there is someone auctioning off war weaponry the U.S. no longer has any need for, and Boomer meets up with his friend Kabral Jabar (Bill Nunn). Roy Boy buys a grenade launcher from the auction right before Hacker shows up and takes control to make his speech declaring that he's just as upset about closing the factory as the former employees are and that they shouldn't be so upset.

Soon after, the president (Alan Alda) arrives, flanked by his National Security Advisor Stuart Smiley (Kevin Pollak) and General Dick Panzer (Rip Torn). He begins making his speech that they should continue to scrap military armaments to fund further education. He is interrupted when Roy Boy accidentally activates his launcher which is supposedly aimed at the President, but Boomer manages to jump on the President in time.

The event increases the President's popularity, but he needs it to go higher, so he summons Soviet President Vladimir Kruschkin (Richard Council) to the White House, hoping to get Russia to go into a cold war with them.But Kruschkin after eating KFC declines because Russia is still repairing itself. He tries to see himself out, with the U.S. President and his henchmen following him and trying to change his mind. However, on his way back to the helicopter, he gets tackled outside the White House by Smiley and Panzer.

The fight gets broken up, and Kruschkin bids adieu. Now out of rivals, the federal staff begins brainstorming, but most of the people they root through are either dead or no longer a threat, much to the President's disappointment.

Meanwhile, at a Canadian hockey game, everyone is singing the National Anthem, except for Boomer and company, who are growing impatient. Unaware that he's hitting a nerve, Boomer takes a sip of beer and says, "I'll tell you another thing, their beer sucks." The game stops instantly, and a player climbs out of the rink and attacks Boomer, causing pandemonium all throughout the stadium. Smiley watches footage of the scene and decides to follow up on the President's suggestion, so he rings up the Canada desk at the CIA.

He goes to the Canada desk and meets up with his friend Gus (Brad Sullivan), who presents his "research" about the negative effects of Canadian work and their impact on the U.S., including a blackout of New York, their supposed plots to destroy capitalism, and all of the free rights Canada offers its citizens. Smiley is convinced, and begins his efforts to pass on the information to the President.

At first he, along with the other Cabinet members, are skeptical, disbelieving that the American people would think of Canada as anything below a civilized, generous, altruistic nation. Smiley reminds them that Canada is growing as a colonizing power and, provided with the evidence, the Americans will buy in to the thought of a revolution between Canada and the U.S.

And within one week, according to Smiley's request for permission to begin the operation, he has infiltrated the American television network system with anti-Canadian propaganda. Americans all over the nation are watching and, suffice to say, the plan is working. However, Boomer is also watching and takes what he sees too literally, thinking that Canada has already begun measures to sink the U.S. into rehab, and that he and his friends have to be ready to stop them.

He gets his cohorts organized with machine guns, so everyone has to be inspected before they can enter such places as a bowling alley or a bingo hall. They destroy signs with the word "Canada" on them, post signs against Canada, and even arrest people for carrying Molson.

Smiley tells Hacker about the progress of the operation, but Hacker is still unsatisfied. He believes that it will take more than a little mass media manipulation to make the Americans believe that they are truly under attack and that they should actually go to war, even if it's just for excitement. He tells Smiley about an incident when Lyndon Johnson assigned to have a naval ship bombed and Vietnam framed for it.

Back at the White House, Smiley shows the President a video of maple syrup pouring over a map of the U.S. as a metaphor for Canadian influence. Promptly, he receives a call from Prime Minister Clark MacDonald (Wallace Shawn), but is quick to dismiss his plight about the propaganda, denying that he had anything to do with influencing anything. Smiley then follows up on Hacker's story about Vietnam and suggests they propose to have a facility destroyed by Americans disguised as Canadians, and the President agrees.

The proposed team goes to a Niagara hydro plant to carry out the destruction, but although the plan doesn't fail, it doesn't go as expected when they are apprehended by Boomer and his gang, who, obviously, mistake them for Canadians, and the incident appears on the news.

One night, Smiley is playing chess with Hacker, while informing him that his latest project, the "Hacker Hellstorm", has been installed at the top of the CN Tower. Smiley is curious about it, so Hacker tells him that the Hellstorm can launch missiles from any silo within the U.S., but he's kept the operating passcodes under wraps, so the Canadians have no militant use for it. In fact, they believe they are instead meant to use it to forecast weather patterns.

Meanwhile, Kabral has headed to Honey's house and discovers several pictures and models in her house of the CN Tower, and her in the process of making another one. He tells her that Boomer has a job for all of them: they are going to cross into Canada and litter the place with trash and, by accident, Boomer's laundry. They are in the middle of doing so when they are spotted by two Mounties on horseback, and they retreat, accidentally leaving Honey behind them. Once they realize it, they start to panic, then decide that she'll be all right, then start to worry again when they see fireworks exploding behind them.

The President, who has been informed of the activity, makes a White House demand that "Hostage Honey" be released, saying, "Surrender her pronto, or we'll level Toronto." He also says that he's alerted his armed forces for "Operation Canadian Bacon". Boomer watches it on TV and begins worrying for her, imagining her making friends with tough, bad-ass Canadian men and defeating them in arm wrestles.

Then a video clip of Honey, currently detained at RCMP headquarters, getting steamed at Boomer for having abandoned her comes on the news, and anchor Edwin S. Simon (Stanley Anderson) reports that the Canadians are deciding to kill her. Boomer drops everything and decides to head off with his pals to rescue her. After one more round of beer, that is.

They cross back into Canada and enter a Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant. They enter the main control room and find two elderly people who claim to be the only two in charge. He ties them up and interrogates them to find the power switch for the RCMP headquarters. One of the elders gestures to the master switch, which Boomer flicks, cutting off all of the power in the entire country and triggering the generator lights. Boomer and his cronies exit, leaving the two elders tied up in their rocking chairs.

At the Presidential office, Panzer shows the President what is happening in Canada. He receives a call from Prime Minister Clark MacDonald and denies that they had anything to do with it again, but Clark tells him that Boomer was the one who caused the nationwide blackout. Panzer believes it's just a Canadian tactic meant to throw them off.

Boomer and his pals reach the RCMP headquarters. They enter and find a Mountie addressing thank-you notes to criminals. They threaten him and interrogate him as to Honey's whereabouts, but he claims not to know anything. He shows them the three criminals he has detained in cells in the headquarters until Boomer describes her, and he tells them that she was taken to "the capital" for a mental health exam. They believe he's talking about Toronto, but he tells them that the capital is Ottawa, at which they all just laugh, still set for Toronto. They propose to steal a truck from the driveway, and Roy Boy takes a canister of spray paint, telling Boomer that "he has an idea".

In the meantime, the Cabinet staff tries to figure out a plan to stop Boomer from ruining, or worse, elevating the war. Smiley suggests that they call in the Omega Force, to which they object, as it is prohibited by presidential code. They learn that Boomer's actions and Honey's capture have caused Americans to rebuke Canadians even more, burning Molson trucks, Canadian flags and various Canadian merchandise, and forging anti-Canada picket signs in an all-out revolt. This causes the President to consent to Smiley's recommendation, and the Omega Force is engaged.

The Omega Force makes their way to the RCMP HQ, interrupting a game of Go Fish, and ask the Mountie where Boomer is. He tells them that they are headed for Toronto, and they leave post-haste. Boomer, on his way to Toronto, is stopped and pulled over by a policeman, who shows him the spray-paint writing on the side of the truck. He makes no remark about the writing being derogatory to Canadians, but he requires that it be rewritten in French, and fines him.

At the capital (Ottawa), Honey wakes up in a hospital, surrounded by get-well notes and giant stuffed animals. She is approached by two candy stripers who tell her that won't need medical attention for over a decade. She beats them up and steals their clothes, finds her gun and leaves the hospital, stealing a mink jacket on her way out.

While Boomer and company stop and make camp for the night, Hacker is on his computer, using the Hacker Hellstorm program to activate the seven missile launch sites, with the rockets aimed at the Soviet Union and set to launch within twelve hours. This puts the Presidential office on red-alert, DEFCON-4 status. Smiley deduces that the missiles were set by the Hellstorm, and the President summons Hacker.

Honey has left Ottawa and reached the CN Tower in Toronto. Boomer, Jabar and Roy Boy have also made it to Toronto and are searching for Honey, while simultaneously marvelling at how clean the city is. They also notice that there's nobody around. They finally spot a girl who tells them that everyone is at the Tower because of some crazy American woman with a big gun. Boomer realizes it's Honey and drives off on the double.

Hacker has been called into the Presidential office and reminds Smiley that he has the codes and that the Hacker Hellstorm is unusable by Canada. The President asks if Canada has control over all of America's missiles. Hacker tells him that when the President cancelled the Hellstorm project, he left Hacker in the dust, costing him half a billion dollars, so he sold control of the missiles to the Canadian government, and it's now installed at the top of the CN Tower.

Boomer has made it to the crowd at the Tower, and pushes his way to the Tower, enters it, and begins climbing the stairs to the top, where Honey is right now.

Hacker continues to inform the President about the Hellstorm project, saying that the missiles are controlled by Hellstorm 1. He also says he created Hellstorm 2 as a defense against Hellstorm 1 should someone else acquire it. He offers to sell Hellstorm 2 for $1 trillion, but Panzer tries to negotiate with him, reminding him of his American patriotism.

There is now half an hour left until the missiles launch, and the alert has grown more severe. At 7 minutes, the President is trying to figure out what is going on. As Hacker gets up to leave, Smiley chases after him, having realized that Hacker was the one who commanded the missile launch. He steals the passcodes from Hacker and punches him in the face, knocking him over the railing, landing him on the President's desk and killing him. Smiley holds up the passcodes triumphantly, but the President orders his arrest, in spite of his protests. Unfortunately, the guards shove the codes into Smiley's mouth to shut him up, which means they have no way to shut off the missiles.

The Omega Force has made it to the Tower and begins climbing the stairs after Boomer, who is about halfway up the Tower now.

Panzer tells the President that he can wipe out Canada at the President's request, but the President protests (only because he summers up there). At that point, the government loses contact with the Omega Force. With only two minutes left, the President calls up Clark MacDonald to negotiate with him.

Honey, at the top of the Tower, is readying her gun when she hears the Hacker Hellstorm saying that the missiles will launch in 1:50. She finds the central computer within the Tower and blasts open the door to it. She finds it and blasts away at the machinery, which topples onto the computer and destroys it, aborting the missile launch sequence, much to the delight and relief of the American government.

Boomer, who has finally reached the top, finds Honey, and they take the elevator down. They ride off and take a boat back to the U.S.

Cast

Production

The movie was filmed in late 1993, in Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls, Ontario; and Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York. Scenes depicting the rapids of the Niagara River were actually filmed at Twelve Mile Creek in St. Catharines. Parkwood Estate in Oshawa was the site for the White House, and Dofasco in Hamilton was the site for Hacker Dynamics. The scene where the American characters look longingly home at the US across the putative Niagara River is, in fact, them looking across Burlington Bay at Stelco steelworks in Hamilton, Ontario.[2]

The hockey game and subsequent riot (due to insulting Canadian beer) was shot at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena in Niagara Falls, Ontario,[3] and the actors portraying the police officers (who eventually join in the riot upon hearing that Canadian beer "sucks") are wearing authentic Niagara Regional Police uniforms.[4]

The film has a notably high number of cameos by Canadian actors. As an example, Dan Aykroyd, who is Canadian, appears in the movie uncredited as an Ontario Provincial Police officer. He stops Sheriff Boomer's truck which has anti-Canadian graffiti painted on it in English and lets Boomer and his "heroes" go after the truck has been spraypainted with the graffiti translated into French. This scene was filmed along the Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, north of Niagara Falls, Ontario.

  • Oliver North appears at the end in a photograph with Stuart Smiley as the newly-elected president.
  • The sequences in the American President's war room are strongly influenced by Stanley Kubrick's black comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
  • Moore appears in a fake news broadcast as one of a group of redneck, gun-toting Americans ready to go to war against Canada. One of his lines is "It's time we put the 'America' back in 'North America'!". He also appears later in the movie driving a pickup truck.
  • The end credits state that no Canadians were harmed during the making of the movie, and thank Johnny La Rue for the opening helicopter shot of Horseshoe Falls. This is a reference to a running gag on SCTV where LaRue (a character played by John Candy) famously went over budget for his talk show ("Street Beef") by insisting on ending the show with a long shot from a rented helicopter. The credits say: "To Johnny LaRue - thanks to you, we got our crane shot."
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are sometimes called the RMPC and the Royal Mounted Canadian Police (RMCP) in this movie.
  • One scene where anti-Canadian propaganda is shown on US TV has pictures of well-known Canadian celebrities in the US including William Shatner, Mike Myers, Monty Hall, Michael J. Fox, and Alex Trebek.

See also

References

External links

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