Film Review: Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)

Release Date: July 9th, 1993
Directed by: Robert Klane
Written by: Robert Klane
Based on: characters by Robert Klane
Music by: Peter Wolf
Cast: Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Terry Kiser, Barry Bostwick, Troy Byer, Tom Wright, Steve James

Artimm, D&A Partnership, TriStar Pictures, 97 Minutes

Review:

“Why would you need to guard a dead man stuck in a two foot refrigerator?” – Richard Parker

Let me preface this by saying that this is a sequel that never needed to be made. Also, even though I love the first movie, I didn’t see this one when it came out and I actually never committed to watching it until maybe a decade ago.

Back when I first saw this, I thought it was a really weak sequel that jumped the shark almost immediately when Bernie’s corpse becomes a voodoo zombie and I pretty much dismissed it and never watched it again until now.

Having several years to marinate on it, I figured I’d give it a rewatch to review it. Besides, I just reviewed the original one, so why not follow it up with this?

Weekend at Bernie’s II takes a zany movie that was pretty much grounded in some sort of reality and turns it on its head, making a voodoo spell animate Bernie’s dead body. Although, the spell was done poorly, so Bernie only moves when he hears music and then it makes him raise up and walk in the direction of where his stolen millions were stashed. However, he doesn’t just walk, he dances and wiggles his head like a boomer at a Jimmy Buffett concert.

This is just a bad movie, through and through, yet I still found it kind of amusing and even more so, this time around. I think that’s because I was already disappointed by it and knew what to expect. Also, already knowing what parts of this I didn’t enjoy, allowed me to focus more on the positives.

The biggest positive is the return of Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman, who are a charismatic and amusing duo.

Also, Terry Kiser got to up the ante in this picture and they really allowed him to do his thing more. With the goofy added voodoo schtick, it did provide Kiser with the opportunity to move and be more active in a fresh way. It opened the film up to new gags, as opposed to rehashing the same things from the first flick. Looking at the voodoo plot twist that way, kind of salvages it.

This was also one of the last movie’s to have Steve James in it, as he died shortly after this was released. He has a fairly small role but I always loved the guy because of how cool and badass he was in the first three American Ninja movies.

Sadly, Weekend at Bernie’s II just doesn’t come close to what the original was. This is probably why this movie is mostly forgotten but the original still has its fans. While I liked this more on a second viewing, I doubt it’s something I’ll ever watch again unlike its predecessor.

Rating: 5.25/10

Film Review: Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

Release Date: February 9th, 1989 (Barcelona premiere)
Directed by: Ted Kotcheff
Written by: Robert Klane
Music by: Andy Summers
Cast: Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Terry Kiser, Catherine Mary Stewart, Don Calfa

Gladden Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, 97 Minutes

Review:

“What kind of a host invites you to his house for the weekend and dies on you?” – Larry Wilson

When this movie came out, I fucking loved the shit out of it. I never quite understood why but over the years, I still find myself revisiting it every so often because it’s just good, hilarious escapism. It also still amazes me how committed Terry Kiser was at playing a dead guy.

Also, Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman are great in this and they have such natural chemistry that one would have to assume that they were good friends in real life or had become good friends while making this movie. It’s their camaraderie and charm as a duo that also salvaged the very weak sequel.

For those who have never seen this, the story follows two young corporate guys that find a very questionable accounting error and bring it to their boss’ attention in an effort to finally move up the corporate ladder. However, that boss is the one committing fraud, so he invites the duo to his beach mansion in an effort to have them killed. However, the boss’ mobster friend decides to have his hitman kill the boss instead. When the duo arrives at the house, they discover their dead boss but ultimately decide to pretend that he’s alive so they can enjoy the weekend before calling the cops. This confuses the hitman and ultimately puts the target on the duo’s back as well.

The story has noir vibes but I wouldn’t really put it in that genre, as this is really just a goofy buddy comedy and focuses more on their antics with the dead guy than the crime and murder part of the story. Granted, there is still a big showdown with the hitman, that plays well and is really funny in a juvenile, slapstick sort of way.

The film also features Catherine Mary Stewart, a favorite actress of mine since I saw her in The Last Starfighter and Night of the Comet. She plays a love interest for Jonathan Silverman but I thought she was underutilized and really put on the backburner for most of the movie. But she does get to be involved in the finale where the hitman shows up at the house with his two new targets still inside.

Even though this movie feels very ’80s, it’s weirdly timeless in that it could take place anywhere. The gags, as goofy as they are, just work and a lot of that is because of how greatly Terry Kiser embraced the role of playing a dead guy out on adventures.

I can’t say that this is as good of a movie as I thought it was when I was eleven years-old but I still enjoy it enough to throw it on every few years.

Rating: 7.25/10

Film Review: Pretty In Pink (1986)

Release Date: January 29th, 1986 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Howard Deutch
Written by: John Hughes
Music by: Michael Gore
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy, Kate Vernon, Andrew Dice Clay, Kristy Swanson, Alexa Kenin, Dweezil Zappa, Gina Gershon, Margaret Colin, Maggie Roswell

Paramount Pictures, 97 Minutes

Review:

“You couldn’t buy her, though, that’s what’s killing you, isn’t it? Steff? That’s it, Steff. She thinks you’re shit. And deep down, you know she’s right.” – Blane

While this John Hughes written movie isn’t as good as the ones he directed, first-time director Howard Deutch did a pretty good job at capturing the Hughes magic and making a film that still felt like it existed in that same universe. I guess Deutch’s ability to adapt Hughes’ script impressed Hughes enough to hire him back for other movies Hughes didn’t direct himself.

Like most of Hughes’s other teen films of the ’80s, this one stars Molly Ringwald. But luckily, this isn’t all on her shoulders, as she had help from legendary character actor, Harry Dean Stanton, as well as Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, Annie Potts and James Spader. There were also smaller roles in this that featured Andrew Dice Clay, Kristy Swanson and Gina Gershon.

This was a movie that I liked a lot in my youth but it does feel pretty dated now and the whole rich kids versus poor kids thing just seems incredibly forced and really extreme, even for an ’80s teen movie. But that’s the centerpiece of this plot, as it creates a Romeo and Juliet story about two young lovers whose social circles try to tear them apart due to their stark, cultural “differences”.

The cast in this is really good, though, and it’s hard not to enjoy these characters even if this is a pretty flawed movie. I liked James Spader and Jon Cryer in this a lot, even though one of them played a real shithead.

Unfortunately, the weakest scenes are the ones that needed to be the strongest. These are the scenes between Ringwald and McCarthy, which just play as pretty uneventful and unemotional. As someone that is caught up in the drama of this story, you want Ringwald’s Andy to make the right decision when it comes to love but ultimately, she doesn’t.

The ending of this movie kind of upset John Hughes, so he essentially had this remade with the same director, a gender swapped cast and the ending he preferred, just a year later. That film is called Some Kind of Wonderful and while it’s not as good as Pretty In Pink, it’s definitely a good companion piece to it, as it provides a more satisfactory conclusion.

Still, I really like this film and it’s one of those things you throw on when you want something light and with a fun, youthful energy. My opinion on it may have soured a little bit over the years but Ducky will always get me through it.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Some Kind of Wonderful and other John Hughes film, as well as other ’80s teen comedies.