Canadian Bacon (1995)


Introduction

Canadian Bacon is a 1995 comedy film written, produced, and directed by Michael Moore which satirizes Canada–United States relations along the Canada-United States border.

The film stars an ensemble cast featuring Alan Alda, John Candy (in his final film role), Bill Nunn, Kevin J. O’Connor, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollak, G.D. Spradlin, and Rip Torn.

Outline

Thousands of former employees are outraged with military businessman R.J. Hacker (G.D. Spradlin), who had closed down his weapons manufacturing plant, Hacker Dynamics. At a conference held at the former plant, he pins the blame for the shutdown of his business on the current President of the United States (Alan Alda), who has just arrived. The president defends his own belief that the future of the children is more important than war, which has caused major decline in his approval rating. After the conference, he expresses to confidantes General Dick Panzer (Rip Torn) and National Security Advisor Stuart Smiley (Kevin Pollak), revealed to have ties with Hacker, his discontent about not having an enemy to engage in war. An attempted negotiation with Russian President Vladimir Kruschkin (Richard E. Council) to start a new cold war with Russia fails, and the president’s suggestion of a war on international terrorism is deemed too absurd.

Serendipitously, American sheriff Bud Boomer (John Candy) offensively criticises Canadian beer while attending a hockey game between the neighbouring nations in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The ensuing brawl ends up on the news and catches Stuart’s attention; Stuart, in turn, collects more information about Canada from a CIA agent named Gus (Brad Sullivan), and suggests Canada as their new enemy during a cabinet meeting. Before long, television channels are littered with anti-Canada propaganda, which Boomer believes wholeheartedly. He prepares for war by distributing guns to his fellow sheriffs, including his girlfriend Honey (Rhea Perlman) and their friends Roy Boy (Kevin J. O’Connor) and Kabral Jabar (Bill Nunn). After they apprehend a group of Americans “dressed as Canadians” attempting to destroy a hydroelectric plant, despite Gus’s protests that they are just Americans, they sneak across the border to litter on Canadian lands, which leads to Honey being arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In a rescue attempt, Boomer, Roy Boy and Kabral sneak into a Canadian power plant and cause a countrywide blackout. When the president learns of this, Stuart orders the Omega Force to remove Boomer from Canada before it is too late.

Hacker, seeking revenge on the president for shutting down his business, uses a software program (“Hacker Hellstorm”) to activate missile silos across the country. The president learns that the signal causing the activation of the silos originated from Canada, and summons Hacker. Hacker offers to sell a program to the president that can cancel out the Hellstorm – for $1 trillion. With seven minutes till launch, and the president trying to figure out what is going on, Stuart, fed up with the president being too busy to give Hacker the money, realises that Hacker, getting up to leave, is the one controlling the silos, not Canada, and, after storming up, takes the operating codes from him required to stop the Hellstorm (accidentally killing Hacker in the process). The president orders Stuart’s arrest, despite the latter‘s protests that he is now able to give the codes to the president so they could deactivate the missiles, which are aimed at Moscow. As the launch time approaches, and the American government loses contact with the Omega Force, the president pleads with Canadian Prime Minister Clark MacDonald (Wallace Shawn) over the phone to stop the launch.

Meanwhile, Honey was taken to a mental hospital upon her capture and escaped all the way to the CN Tower. She discovers the central computer for the Hellstorm located at the top and destroys it with a machine gun, aborting the launch sequence. She then reunites with Boomer, who had tracked her to the Tower, and they return to the United States via a speedboat.

An ending montage reveals the characters’ fates: Boomer realises his dream of appearing on Cops; Honey has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Rifle Association; the president was defeated in the next election by a large landslide and now hosts Get Up, Cleveland; Stuart served eight months in prison, but was pardoned by the new president; Panzer committed suicide after learning that Hogan’s Heroes was fictional; Gus was last spotted heading to Mexico in a tank; Hacker’s body has been viewed daily at Republican National Headquarters; Kabral has become a hockey star, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy three years in a row; Roy Boy’s whereabouts become unknown; and MacDonald is “still ruling with an iron fist”.

Cast

  • John Candy as Bud B. Boomer, Sheriff of Niagara County.
  • Alan Alda as President of the United States.
  • Rhea Perlman as Honey, Deputy sheriff of the Niagara County Sheriff Department and girlfriend and colleague of Sheriff Bud Boomer.
  • Kevin Pollak as Stu Smiley, National Security Advisor.
  • Rip Torn as General Dick Panzer, Commander of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
  • Kevin J. O’Connor as Roy Boy, friend of Sheriff Bud Boomer.
  • Bill Nunn as Kabral Jabar, Deputy sheriff of the Niagara County Sheriff Department and friend and colleague of Sheriff Bud Boomer.
  • G. D. Spradlin as R.J. Hacker, Owner of Hacker Dynamics.
  • Steven Wright as Niagara Mountie.
  • Jim Belushi as Charles Jackal, news reporter for NBS News.
  • Richard E. Council as Russian President Vladimir Kruschkin.
  • Brad Sullivan as Gus.
  • Stanley Anderson as Edwin S. Simon, news anchor for NBS News.
  • Wallace Shawn as Canadian Prime Minister Clark MacDonald.
  • Michael Moore as Redneck guy.
  • Dan Aykroyd as Ontario Provincial Police officer (uncredited).
  • Ed Sahely as Mountie (uncredited).

Production

The film was shot in fall 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 them looking across Burlington Bay at Stelco steelworks in Hamilton, Ontario.

The hockey game/riot were shot at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the actors portraying the police officers (who eventually join in the riot upon hearing “Canadian beer sucks”) are wearing authentic Niagara Regional Police uniforms.

The film has numerous cameos by Canadian actors, including Dan Aykroyd, who appears uncredited as an Ontario Provincial Police officer who pulls Candy over (not for the crude anti-Canadian graffiti on his truck, but its lack of a French translation; Boomer dutifully sprays his truck in French graffiti). Moore himself appears as an American gun nut. Cameo pictures of Canadian-American American actors in Propaganda are Michael J. Fox; Lorne Greene and Alex Trebek.

Reception

Canadian Bacon was panned by critics.

Trivia

  • The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, and was the final film released starring John Candy, though it was shot before the earlier-released Wagons East.
  • It is also Moore’s only non-documentary film to date (as of November 2020).
  • The final note in the credits, “To Johnny LaRue – thanks to you, we got our crane shot”, is a reference to one of John Candy’s recurring characters on SCTV Channel (1983) .
  • Michael Moore was turned down by 47 different film companies before Madonna’s Maverick Productions picked up the option.
  • The American President is never given a name.
  • One of the odd little “inside” jokes is the title: “Canadian Bacon” is an American term.
    • According to the American Pork Producers Association, the name was coined to designate that style of bacon which was, many years ago, imported from Canada because such a cut was not produced in the US at the time.
    • Canadians generally call such bacon “back bacon”.
  • Michael Moore wrote the screenplay during the first Gulf War, in reaction to what he felt was the US government’s manipulation of the media in supporting Operation Desert Storm.
  • In one scene, the characters played by John Candy, Bill Nunn and Kevin J. O’Connor sit around a campfire and discuss films in which black characters are killed before their white co-stars.
    • O’Connor mentions Forrest Gump (1994), which was released six months after principal photography on “Bacon” was completed, and four months after Candy’s death.
    • The line was looped in after the scene was shot.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Michael Moore.
  • Producer(s):
    • Stuart M. Besser … line producer.
    • David Brown … producer.
    • Freddy De Mann … executive producer (as Freddy DeMann).
    • Louis G. Friedman … line producer (uncredited).
    • Kathleen Glynn … co-producer.
    • Gregory Goodman … producer: re-shoots.
    • Terry Miller … associate producer.
    • Michael Moore … producer.
    • Ron Rotholz … producer.
    • Sigurjon Sighvatsson … executive producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Michael Moore.
  • Music:
    • Elmer Bernstein,
    • Peter Bernstein.
  • Cinematography:
    • Haskell Wexler … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • Michael Berenbaum.
    • Wendey Stanzler.
  • Production:
    • Dog Eat Dog Films.
    • Gramercy Pictures.
    • Maverick Picture Company.
    • Polygram Filmed Entertainment.
    • Propaganda Films.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Gramercy Pictures (1995) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Becker Entertainment (1995) (Australia) (theatrical).
    • Cineplex Odeon Films (1995) (Canada) (theatrical).
    • PolyGram Film Distribution (1996) (France) (theatrical).
    • Sogepaq Distribución (1995) (Spain) (theatrical).
    • Columbia TriStar Home Video (Australia) (VHS).
    • FS Film (2004) (Finland) (DVD).
    • Kinowelt Home Entertainment (2006) (Germany) (DVD).
    • MGM Home Entertainment (2001) (Canada) (DVD).
    • MGM Home Entertainment (2001) (USA) (DVD).
    • Mainostelevisio (MTV3) (1999) (Finland) (TV).
    • PolyGram Video (USA) (VHS).
    • PolyGram Vidéo (France) (VHS).
    • Studio Hamburg Enterprises (2019) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
    • Studio Hamburg Enterprises (2019) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Tonpool Medien (2020) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
    • Tonpool Medien (2020) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Transworld Video (1995) (Finland) (VHS).
    • VCL Communications (2004) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Video Company (Brazil) (video).
    • Warner Home Video (2004) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Yleisradio (YLE) (2009) (Finland) (TV).
  • Release Date: May 1995 (Cannes Film Festival, France), 22 September 1995 (US), and 20 October 1995 (UK).
  • Running time: 91 minutes.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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