The adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie in the Great White North.
Starring Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis
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|by Jason Whyte ||Jan 25, 2000|
Well, I am shocked to find an opportunity on Bigscreen to write for one of the most sweet, original, and all out funniest comedies of the 80's, but here I go!
When I first saw Strange Brew, it was in the early 90's, and I believe I was around 12 or 13. Even though I was young, I voted this one of the funniest comedies made, and I still feel that way today. The film, a mass macabre of great writing and perfect timing, is a classic, a film that should be regarded as such because, of all things, it ripped off Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and no one seemed to notice.
The opening is tour de force, a movie within a movie where we are introduced to the McKenzie brothers, as they sit in their pathetic Great White North set, with what looks like hundreds of empty beer bottles, back bacon, and popcorn (though they just call it "corn"). The first to speak is Bob (Rick Moranis, who has never been better), who says "eh?" and "beauty" all the time. Follows is Doug, who has his musical theme, which I can't even begin to write. They are hands down, the messiest hosts you will ever meet, they can't even keep their heads on straight and they are hosting for you!
The whole mess of their set and their hosting is matched by their showing of some cheap, 8MM home movie that they made about one man who was on vacation off of earth when the whole planet was devestated by nuclear war. ("Like, Russia blew up the US, and US blew up Russia, eh?" says Bob, in his self cast part) Then, a moment later, the cheap film tears and they desperately try to repair it; at the same time the camera zooms in on Doug and he is telling you how you can stuff a rubber mouse into a beer bottle. And so on.
Then, the film throws a curve at you: this was actually a movie that was released into theatres! We hear someone yell back at the screen, and then we see him, storming out of the theater. Then we see Bob and Doug sitting in the audience, watching their own MOVIE! A riot follows, since Doug unleashes a jar of moths, just like the film told him to do. This is a classic scene, partly because we assumed the movie was only for us, but the fact that we were watching it with another audience is brilliant.
And that is the first ten minutes of "Strange Brew". The following 80 are just as wonderful, if not more. We follow Bob and Doug into the depths of their lives, and they are no different from idiot teens. The big plot hook: they're out of beer! Dispatched to the beer store, they have no money, so they use that mouse in the bottle routine. Nitched at the store, they go to the brewery, where these two bozos land jobs! Then the plot finally folds in (Here comes Hamlet), with a propery dispute over the owners. After the father died, his daugter is entilted to 51% of the brewery, but her uncle married her mother to get possession.
At the same time, Brewmeister Smith (Max Von Sydow) is making a drugged version of the beer that can warp people's minds. And the truth is found out about her father's death, by tweedle dee and tweedle dumb, and the rest of the film is a series of sabotages, brainwashing and very funny encounters. Will Bob and Doug save the day? Who cares, they are so much fun we don't care what happens!
Whenever I look back on the 80's, one of the first things I remember is this movie. Somehow, it captivated me while making me laugh out loud. The 90's equivalent of "Strange Brew" is "Swingers", the masterpiece featuring Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn as lovelorn souls in LA. But at least there is something good to look back from the 80's.
Picture: 2 Boring quality film, washed out colors, and the like.
Sound: 1 Mono. 'Nuff said.
Photography: 1. Shot in 1.33:1, the same dimensions as TV. 'Nuff said.
Running Time: 89 minutes/Rated PG for mild language