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Still Canada’s reigning domestic box office champ, Bon Cop, Bad Cop is hailed by some as an important move towards trying to join the francophone and anglophone film industries within Canada.  The film is entirely bilingual and takes on the concept of mixed cultures and languages – something you’d think would be more common in a mixed language country like ours.

Fun facts about Bon Cop, Bad Cop : the entire movie was filmed using 2 scripts – one written in French and one written in English; the language used in each scene was decided upon during the editing process; and finally, it was released in two official versions, one for Anglophones and one for Francophones – the difference being only a few lines of dialogue and of course, the subtitles.

Is all this enough to make Bon Cop, Bad Cop Essential Canadian Cinema? Brandy Dean and Daniel Janvier discuss the matter further.

Daniel: I felt like such an asshole after watching this. There’s this insanely cartoony element to Canadian comedy that refuses to evolve. It usually plays to stereotypes attributed to each province/city/job/thing, but is often too kind and cutesy about it. The first meeting of the two leads in Bon Cop, Bad Cop is exactly this. They mock each other. The Québécois  cop is cool but lazy, unkempt, and a bit of a jerkoff. The Ontarian is very very lame and much like a tour guide. They are both idiots – if there is anything all Canadians have in common, it’s that we are incredibly stupid. Also HOCKEY!

Brandy: Maybe you just are an asshole? But I digress… as a non-Canadian, I found Bon Cop, Bad Cop to be one of the few instances where the base memes of Canadian-ness was addressed in a movie in a more clever, subtle, and sardonic way. Canadians are nothing if not sardonic. And an Ontario cop with a stick up his ass? It’s almost cinéma vérité. Plus, HOCKEY!

Daniel: Watching both cops cling to either side of a corpse that is split down the middle by a highway sign (he was dropped, mystery solved) until their shared weight tear the body in two pieces is like finding an episode of The Red Green Show where the members of Possum Lodge are trapped within Jigsaw’s latest projectile-exploding-blade-laden labyrinth.

Brandy: Dropped? You’d make a bad cop and never log enough hours for overtime with those kind of theories of crime. But again, the body hanging over the Ontario/Quebec sign is a really clever way to illustrate an actually important component of Canadian political life. Why, new constitutional squabbles erupted just this week! Arguments over jurisdiction are cornerstones of police procedurals and crime fiction, and I was struck with the novel way that this old chestnut is used in Bon Cop, Bad Cop , both as the trope itself and as a Canadian hot button symbol.

Colm Feore and Patrick Huard argue over territory in "Bon Cop, Bad Cop"

Colm Feore and Patrick Huard argue over territory in “Bon Cop, Bad Cop”

Daniel: The film goes on for thirty or forty more minutes having the characters reference the RCMP, the OPP, I think, the Heart and Stroke foundation, HOCKEY!, and of course, bilingualism, for which they pat themselves on the back with every reference. The audience is aware of bilingualism when the cast switches back and forth between the languages with the impressive speed that the performers are capable of, it doesn’t need to be constantly referenced or have the situations play out in reverse (sometimes in the same scene).

Brandy: So Bon Cop, Bad Cop sometimes gets labelled as the first truly bilingual feature film made in Canada, but it wasn’t. However, it was wildly successful at the box office, so there’s some validity to the “first” claim. If the entire movie is a play on the Ontario v. Quebec, Anglophone v. Francophone facts of Canadian life – and it definitely is – then the bilingualism makes sense. So do the reverse situations and the sly sort of in-jokes for two distinct cultures which nevertheless have to work together. It might be a bit pat and a bit coy, but still very clever.

Daniel: It seems to be confused with its own identity as things gets real in the plot. Then a childish fight scene breaks out between the two police officers as they manhandle Rick Mercer’s (actually really funny) Don Cherry parody as well as his female director. Then a daughter gets kidnapped. Then perhaps the strongest scene in the movie–Suzie chastising Bouchard–leads to kidnapping a little person named Buttman and a manacing henchman fucks about in a squirrel suit.

Brandy: Here’s where we vastly diverge. The whole hockey subplot – the Rick Mercer as Don Cherry, recasting Gary Bettman as Buttman, the fact that the killer was pushed over the edge by the NHL moving Canadian hockey teams to the US – is brilliant. While I agree with you that Canadian humour often lapses into the same hockey-beaver-maple syrup dumbness, I think Bon Cop, Bad Cop transcends that by poking fun at the phenomena. The movie gets to be about hockey, without really being about hockey. Neat trick! And in the end, it stitches Canadians – whether Anglophone or Francophone – together against the more appropriate common enemy, the US (those guys suck).

Is Bon Cop, Bad Cop Essential Canadian Cinema?

Daniel: I have fond memories of the first few Lethal Weapon flicks as well as a pretty harsh disdain for the unchanging form of Canadian comedy, but I really feel that this movie could have been much more as a comedy not bound by such limited conventions. I’d love to say this movie is Essential, but it feels like Corner Gas took a turn for the dark.

Brandy: Box office doesn’t lie and this one of the highest-grossing movies in Canadian film history. I say the people have spoken on this one and it’s definitely Essential Canadian viewing. I’ll also say that when I moved to Canada I saw an episode of Corner Gas and I thought that it was really sweet some network exec had given his differently-abled nephew a television show. Then I attended a family dinner where everyone went on and on about how funny Corner Gas was and how much they loved it. I think it’s time for Canada to stop being pretentious and embrace the things that Canada actually likes as really deeply Canadian. Vive le Bon Cop, Bad Cop !

The TFS Verdict

Mon Dieu! That was a tense discussion that resolved nothing. Each writer feels pretty strongly about their opinion and we have another split vote. We need your help, readers – should Bon Cop, Bad Cop be essential viewing? Make your feelings known below.

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