America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon
Review By Dan Geddes
Cast of Characters
Canadian Bacon is a light-heartened Dr. Strangelove from Michael Moore. But it seems especially relevant for America of the 1990s, or even for our own day. The similarity between the propaganda tactics of the President (Alan Alda) in Canadian Bacon, and President Bush's manufactured war against Iraq are uncanny. This is a very topical movie, and can be seen by the audiences of Fahrenheit 911 who are looking for more Michael Moore.
Canadian Bacon seems to have fallen into same relative pit of obscurity as Bob Roberts, another sharp political satire that remains unknown to many, probably due to it being ignored by the main media organs.
Canadian Bacon works with a simple premise: after the fall of the Soviet Bloc, the U.S. government and large defense contractors needed a new enemy for a new Cold War. After reviewing slides of more obvious U.S. bogeymen (e.g., the Ayatollah), the President (Alan Alda) is desperate for enemies. But an imaginative NSC advisor (Kevin Pollak), convinces the President that he could incite anti-Canadian fervor in the American people.
His plan succeeds wildly. He shows Canadians to be a power-hungry race (evidence? it's now the 2nd largest country in the world; 90% of its citizens are massed within 100 miles of the U.S. border, the longest undefended border in the world).
So a hero named Sheriff Bud Boomer (John Candy) of Niagara Falls appears on the scene, capturing American operatives in the act of planting in explosives in a power station, intending to later blame it on the Canadians. Boomer inspires his community to resist the imminent Canadian invasion.
Canadian Bacon's light touch makes it accessible to modern audiences, perhaps more so than Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Not only is Strangelove shot in black-and-white, but it gets a bit tedious, such as when Kubrick shows us every step of how bomber plans are sealed, desealed, authorized, with the bomber crew reading codes back and forth to each other.
Canadian Bacon follows the two plots of the Presidentís attempt to regain control of an unauthorized missile launch, and Boomer's odyssey through Canada† as he tries to rescue† his insane girlfriend Deputy Honey (Rhea Perlman).
Moore's movie is an uncanny critique of the 2003 Iraq invasion. The motive is the same: the need for any enemy. The entire media shills willingly for this war. The main beneficiary is an arms manufacturer R.J. Hacker (G. D. Spradlin), who pretends† to sell a nuclear command station to the Canadians, but retains the launch codes for his own use.
Letís face it: Canadian Bacon is no masterpiece. But it is slapstick political satire from the left, a kind of movie we no longer see so much. Watch it not because it is hilarious (itís not), but because of the dead-on observations about the fear used to manipulate the American public.