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Canadian Bacon

video review out of 4 Movie Review: Canadian Bacon

Starring: Alan Alda, John Candy
Director: Michael Moore
Rated: PG
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: September 1995
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Michael Moore, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollak, Rip Torn, Bill Nunn, Kevin J. O'Connor, Steven Wright, James Belushi

Review by Dragan Antulov
½ star out of 4

Movies, like everything else, can age. What was supposed to be great, well-known or highly acclaimed film today could be utterly forgotten tomorrow or, even worse, viewed as something mediocre. But sometimes history can play especially cruel tricks with certain titles. Even the bad ones, and the best example for this could be found in CANADIAN BACON, 1995 comedy written and directed by Michael Moore, left-wing filmmaker best known for his acclaimed documentaries and sharp criticism of American corporate and political establishment. This time he took satirical approach towards American jingoism and its connection with military-industrial complex. The plot takes place after the end of Cold War, when the USA lost its adversaries and reason to maintain large military. Loss of lucrative contracts begins to affect defence industry and the rest of economy, which, in turns reflects in declining poll numbers for dovish President (played by Alan Alda). In desperate need for something to distract electorate's attention from domestic troubles he succumbs to the pressure from hawkish General Panzer (played by Rip Torn) and decides to manufacture new evil empire out of neighbouring Canada. The American public is soon subjected to vicious propaganda blitz that paints Canadians as evil incarnate. This manifests in Niagara Falls where couple of citizens led by Sheriff Bud B. Boomer (played by John Candy) decide to take matters into their own hands, cross border and teach pesky Canadians a lesson.

Capitalist greed as the prime cause of wars is one of the recurring themes in the history of modern political thought. Idea that the masses could be manipulated into believing anything isn't exactly new either. So, concept of CANADIAN BACON isn't particularly original (and was used in WAG THE DOG few years later). That, however, doesn't mean that the movie should be boring or unfunny. Unfortunately, Michael Moore showed incredible ineptness both as a writer and director. Satirical stabs in the film are half-hearted at best and almost all jokes are unbelievably unfunny. To make things even more incredible, the cast is made of great comedians. It is especially sad to see legendary John Candy having one of his last appearances wasted in this failed project. The direction is equally disappointing and Moore's apparent inability to deal with anything more complicated than documentary makes CANADIAN BACON look much cheaper than its nominal budget would indicate.

However, CANADIAN BACON is the most disappointing when we look at it from today's context. Eight years ago, with seemingly omnipotent USA Moore was perhaps right in blaming scruples politicians and greedy corporate executives for most of the evil in this world. But today, with last year's tragic events fresh in our memory, viewers know that the world is much more complicated place and because of that CANADIAN BACON looks more pathetic than it deserves.

Copyright 2002 Dragan Antulov

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