John Candy’s presence here, in what turned out to be his final film release, may be the focus of whatever attention this movie receives. Playing an American sheriff who leads a misguided invasion of Canada in this determinedly wacky comedy, Candy is, as usual, lovable — his big belly laugh, as well as his big belly, was always reassuring. But the real force behind Canadian Bacon is writer-producer-director Michael Moore. It looks as if it was Moore’s notion to turn the 1959 Peter Sellers comedy The Mouse That Roared inside out: Where Mouse was about a tiny country that hoped to revive its economy by declaring war on America, in Bacon the American President makes war on Canada to boost his own popularity. Bacon’s devilish conceit (capitalist war machine exploiting socialist peaceableness) jibes with the leftist politics Moore displayed in his mock-doc Roger & Me and in his television series TV Nation. But as in those efforts, something’s missing amid the cleverness: big laughs. Alan Alda is excellent as a wormy U.S. President, but Rip Torn and Kevin Pollak are wasted in cartoonish roles as Alda’s advisers. Sure, Candy is fine, but he’s paired with Cheers‘ Rhea Perlman as a fellow law officer, who, thanks to Moore, does not get much of anything funny to do either. Still, Perlman as a big-screen leading lady may be the most radical idea Moore has come up with yet. C+
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