Bon Cop, Bad Cop
(Minor spoiler) Here we have a Canadian take on the “reluctant buddies” action/thriller/comedy genre that has more examples than you can shake a hockey stick at. Think Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, or Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, with guns. Colm Feore is a cop from Toronto (the buttoned-down, stuffy one) and Patrick Huard is a cop from Montreal (the slob, the out-of-control rule-breaker). One of the many things that separate them is language, though both are bilingual.
It is also very much an “Only in Canada” film. I mean, where else could a sports fan get so upset about players being traded and teams being moved as to become a serial killer over it … and have it be at least marginally believable? It’s something that has always puzzled me about Canadians. Why is it that a people, justly proud of their reputation for politeness, relative lack of bellicosity, and all-around nice dispositions, suddenly go all bull goose loony the moment a puck is dropped on the ice? Their national sport is the most violent team sport there is, the only one where you are issued a weapon before the game begins. I once went to a professional hockey game while I was living in Vancouver, BC, just to see what it was all about. I left before the end. Not only could I never seem to see where the friggin’ puck was, I’d have sooner been in a crowd watching gladiatorial blood sports.
So we open with a body that has been dumped from a helicopter and lands, literally, on the border between Ontario and Quebec, on the actual sign announcing the provincial line, his tete in Quebec and his ass in Ontario. (Or maybe it was the other way around; I chose to put it that way because I don’t know the French word for ass.) (Is it DeGaulle? Depardieu?) (It also reminded me of the old joke: A plane crashes on the border between Canada and the US. Where do you bury the survivors?) The odd couple is forced to work together. The bodies pile up, all with a hockey connection.
It’s all a lot of fun. The characters surmount their rather obvious clichéd origins with a combination of clever dialogue writing, excellent peripheral characters and back story, and good acting. There is an absolutely brilliant scene where the two escape a burning house with a marijuana farm in the basement, and start to feel rather odd from smoke inhalation. It’s the best stoned scene I can recall since Peter Sellers and some others in I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! after they unknowingly eat some pot brownies.
One minor technical complaint: The subtitles seemed rather small, and were often shown against a backdrop that pretty effectively disguised them. I hate it when that happens, but I don’t really blame the filmmakers. At least, I hope they’re not to blame.
Here’s something strange. When these Francophone Canucks were speaking French, I could understand almost all the words they said. No, I didn’t know what most of them meant, it’s just that I could have transcribed most of them phonetically. That’s never happened in a French French film. Their accents must be radically different, like Cajun French, which I grew up hearing, and which is also decipherable to my ear.