Weekend at Bernie’s

“Weekend at Bernie’s” was a surprise hit, a slapstick farce that caught the youth of America off guard. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Bernie kicked the bucket and created so much hysteria. His afterlife antics were so popular that he returned in “Weekend at Bernie’s II.”


weekendatberniesWhile all of the original cast returned, the magic had worn off. Not that “Weekend at Bernie’s” is magical, but it does manage to entertain on a rather macabre level. How else can you explain laughing at two guys dragging around a dead body, pretending that he’s still alive. It’s a weird and twisted premise, one engagingly explored by director Ted Kotcheff and writer Robert Klane. Klane supposedly worked on “Weekend at Bernie’s” (known as “Hot and Cold”) for over eighteen years before he was happy with the script. Even at its most outlandish, “Weekend at Bernie’s” is a tightly woven comedy of the extreme. Crazy things happen, but in the context of the film, they almost seem normal. Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman are okay as Larry Wilson and Richard Parker, two young, eager executives who think they’ve just saved their firm over $2 million. When Larry and Richard bring an oversight to their boss Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), they think they’ve finally hit the big time. He promises them raises and a weekend at his exclusive beach house. What Larry and Richard don’t know is that Bernie has been skimming the money, and now must do something to cover his tracks. He plans to get rid of Larry and Richard, but an underworld thug whacks him first. So when Larry and Richard show up for a weekend of fun in the sun, their plans are put on hold when they find Bernie’s body. When the killers return to clean up their mess, Larry and Richard realize the only way to stay alive is to pretend that Bernie is still alive. So they create an elaborate plan to create the illusion of Bernie being alive. They throw a beach party, and invite everyone over to hang out with the dead drunk Bernie (one woman even sneaks up to his bedroom for a stiff one). Their scam is so complete that even the killers believe they screwed up. All of this leads to one ghoulish laugh after another as the guys go to desperate lengths to stay alive. Catherine Mary Stewart is delightful as the love interest who can’t decide if the guys are crazy or criminal. However, it’s Terry Kiser (and his stunt double and dummy) who steals the show. Kiser, with his dead pan look, is hysterical as he bounces from one situation to the next. He’s like a Timex watch. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. The production values are adequate for such an affair, with most of the activity taking place in Lomax’s beach house. It’s not a gut buster, but there are plenty of laughs in “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ X ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

The digital transfer, in the film’s original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, looks rather flat. I don’t believe it’s an attribute of the transfer, but an artistic choice during the production of the film. For some reason I would have expected brighter colors for a comedy. The depth of field is very limited, and the blacks are acceptable but not industry standard. The flesh tones are decent. A very small trace of compression artifacts, but not nearly enough to qualify as a deal breaker.

HEARING: [ ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

The 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track is effective but nothing to get excited about. It gets the job done, and provides some playful ambient noise. The dialogue is easy on the ears, while the musical score encompasses the room when necessary.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions in English and subtitles in Spanish.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

The usual collection of main and screen access menus, cast & crew bios and filmographies, and the original theatrical trailer. The menus are ripe for click-able extras, but I couldn’t find any.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

Bernie may be DOA, but this lively comedy is worth a look.

VITALS: $24.98/Rated PG-13/110 Minutes/Color/36 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#60488DVD

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S

BIRTH DATE: 1989

HMO: Artisan Entertainment



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