Just mentioning the name of John Candy brings smiles to the faces of many. His cameos in such popular films like Home Alone, National Lampoon's Vacation, Stripes and The Blues Brothers are well known. However, Candy also was a leading man. He never starred in any huge blockbusters, but Candy established himself as a comedic star and even a sensitive romantic leading man.
In his last film, John Candy stars as Bud Boomer. Formerly an employee of defense contractor Hacker Industries in Niagara Falls, NY, he was one of thousands laid off when the plant shut down. Since his Uncle is the mayor, Boomer is able to land a job as the town's sheriff, but many of his friends and fellow citizens have no hope.
Alan Alda stars as the President of the United States, an inept politician trying to think of ways to boost his standings in the polls. He is angry that his predecessors always had the Russians to scapegoat and could rally Americans around their hate of the enemy, but, since the Cold War is over, he is reviled for closing down so many industrial plants.
His conniving National Security Advisor, Stu Smiley (Kevin Pollack), is convinced that they must come up with a new enemy. With a new Cold War, the defense industry will rebound, people will get their jobs back and the President can look tough. However, who is a worthy adversary? The Russians are broke and refuse to restart the battle.
One night, Boomer and his friends go to Canada to watch a hockey and start a riot. This sparks an idea in Smiley's mind. What if the enemy was the Canadians? Smiley starts a smear campaign against our neighbors to the north and creates anti-Canadian sentiment in the country, especially in Niagara Falls, where they share a common border with the USA.
When Boomer and his friends get carried away and invade Canada, will a real war break out?
Although he is well known for his documentary, Roger and Me, this film marks the first fictional picture by Michael Moore. Fiercely pro-labor and liberal, some don't like Moore's heavy-handed satire and political message. Die-hard conservatives will probably want to stay away, but Moore takes some funny, pointed jabs at the American political process and the way politicians try to create issues that will lead to more support for themselves. Moore's script tries to make a political point about the strength of the military industrial complex, but would have benefited from becoming more of a farce. At times, Moore sacrifices the comedy for political statements, especially some ill advised comedy about race relations in America.
The movie has some great comedic performances. First, Candy is great as the patriotic leader fighting a war that doesn't exist. He is able to see the lunacy of the character and just runs with it. By dropping any pretense that this is a serious political satire, Candy is able to entertain without preaching.
Rip Torn shines as the trigger happy General Dick Panzer, a military leader who yearns for the good old days when the military had some battles to wage and enemies to destroy. Alan Alda is very good as the weak willed President who wants to be loved by the people, and Rhea Perlman is very entertaining as Candy's deputy who gets carried away with the whole mess.
Kevin Pollack's performance is the one disappointment. I have seen him do some great work in The Usual Suspects and Avalon, but he seems to be stiff in this film. He tries too hard to be the evil, conniving weasel instead of seeing the farce in his character.
If you want a silly movie this weekend, check out Canadian Bacon.
Directed and written by Michael Moore
John Candy Bud Boomer
Rhea Perlman Honey
Alan Alda .. The President
Bill Nunn Kabral
Kevin J. O'Connor Roy Boy
Kevin Pollack Stu Smiley
Rip Torn General Dick Panzer
G. D. Spradlin R.J. Hacker
Copyright 2000 - WaffleMovies.com