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They are Canadians. They are among us.
A 1995 geopolitical comedy film by Michael Moore, starring John Candy, Rhea Pearlman, 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 of Niagara Falls, NY, 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!
The film, despite some modest critical acclaim was a failure, and along with Kevin Smith's Mallrats (another big budget flop made by another member of the "Indie Film Boom" crowd of the late 80's and early 90's) helped nearly bankrupt Gramercy Pictures (until they quickly got back on their feet with Dead Man Walking).
This film contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: When Boomer saves the President from a misfired bazooka, he says that he would've voted if his cable repair man wasn't late. A running gag in a previous John Candy film Delirious was his character running late due to a cable repair man.
- Author Appeal: Michael Moore loves Canada and hates 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 Kabral, Bud, and Roy Boy have about it includes several notable examples of it.
- He gets one example wrong though. Samuel L. Jackson's character is not the first character who dies in said film. He's more like the 4th.
- Canada, Eh?
- Creator Cameo: Michael Moore appears as a member of an anti-Canadian mob
- 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.
- On the other hand, the third guy merged his company with a conglomerate, and then fired all his employees. 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.
- Eagle Land: 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.
- Invaded States of America: Played for laughs.
- Make the Bear Angry Again: Unsuccessful.
- Most Common Card Game: The Mountie plays it with his prisoners.
- 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.
- Our Presidents Are Different
- Serious Business: Canadian beer is taken very seriously in Canada. If you insult it, you will cause a riot.
- That Came Out Wrong: "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're 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.