As someone who grew up in Ontario (mostly) and now lives in Quebec, I can say with authority that Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a fantastic send up of the occasionally pained relationship between the two provinces. There’s a lot of history and a lot of angst to be found in that relationship, and somehow we now seem more distant from each other than do the English and French, whose historic animus is the basis for our long-standing conflict.
When I go shopping in Quebec, I do not speak French and neither does Jay even though she’s totally bilingual. I am not bilingual but I know enough to order a Happy Meal in French if I wanted. But I DON’T want to – I want Quebec McDonald’s to speak English to me.
That stubbornness goes both ways. Not only do many frontline retail staff refuse to speak English back to me (especially older ones), Quebecers are consistently terrible drivers who poke along well below the speed limit in the fast lane and refuse to move over for my bright orange racecar no matter how close I get to their bumper.
And yet, we consistently have each other’s back when push comes to shove. When it rained for what seemed like a month straight in April and May and the Ottawa River started overflowing its banks to the point that it came onto our backyard, those same French bastards from McDonald’s and the highway banded together to deliver sandbags to us (and thousands of other English speakers in our border city) at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday and then helped us put those sandbags in place, with smiles on their faces as they asked in English whether they could do anything else to help.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop nails that dynamic at every step, as two cops (Ontarian Colm Feore and Quebecer Patrick Huard) are forced to work together to solve a murder in which a body was found straddling the Ontario-Quebec border. Of course they’re going to try to one-up the other, of course they’re going to set stupid and arbitrary rules about who does what and which language gets used when, and of course their petty squabbles are going to put everything in jeopardy. Because that’s what we do. But in the end, we accomplish what needs doing, and we share a grudging respect that binds us closer than geography alone ever could.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop captures our relationship perfectly and pokes fun at it at every opportunity. That made Bon Cop, Bad Cop enjoyable in spite of its cliches, nonsensical plot, and cheap shots at Gary Bettman (okay, the last bit was enjoyable on its own). But if you’re not from either province, you probably won’t get it, and truthfully we kind of like that you don’t. We may argue over which of Ontario and Quebec is better but we agree that both are way better than wherever the hell you live.