Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Starring Colm Feore and Patrick Huard. In English and French with English subtitles. Rated 14A.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop, a rare Canadian venture into straightforward commercialism, manages to work well as both light entertainment and running commentary on the culture clash between the English and French Canadas.

Things get under way when a murder victim is found smack-dab on the border between Quebec and Ontario. In one of those leaps of movie logic necessary for the entertainment of millions (or at least thousands), this grisly, CSI-worthy event requires the pairing of one detective from each province to track down the criminals responsible. Federal enforcement might be more appropriate, because the archfiend in question is””rather sensibly, as serial killers go””bumping off businessmen responsible for the outsourcing of Canadian hockey.

Of course, this is initially unknown to Toronto's Martin Ward (Colm Feore) and Montrealer David Bouchard (Les Boys star Patrick Huard, who helped develop Bon Cop's story and script). In the best (or worst) buddy-cop tradition, their contrasting styles present more obstacles than anything found on the trail of clues. Our buttoned-down Anglo's turtlenecks and suit jackets don't fit well with the other guy's ciggy-puffing, leather-jacketed ways. Also according to the rules, each proves much more capable””and capable of swearing in several languages””than the other suspects.

In the background, rather sketchily, are conflicts within each of the cops' families. Single-dad Martin can't get a word out of his sullen teenage son (Erik Knudson), although the boy immediately takes to the rough-hewn Quebecker””as does Martin's trollopy sister, played by someone with the rather un-Toronto name of Hugolin Chevrette-Landesque. So it's only fair when the visiting Ontarian is embraced by the family lost by the careless David, including ex-wife Suzie. A few good-natured smiles from model-turned-actor Lucie Laurier, in this role, are certainly enough to justify further turf wars between the mismatched partners.

These side plots are not fussed over by director Eric Canuel, who prefers to leave lots of room for funny business between the leads and scattershot guests. These include Quebec veteran Pierre Lebeau, who outblusters every other gruff police captain you've ever seen, and Rick Mercer as a right-wing TV host ready to punch anything that moves.

The last part of Bon Cop bogs down a bit in standard chase stuff, but most of its two hours moves along briskly enough to make even the most committed francophobe cry “tabernac”  in delight.