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
“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.
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
“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.
Also known as: Closed for Storm – The Story of Six Flags New Orleans (complete title)
Release Date: November 7th, 2020 (New Orleans Film Festival)
Directed by: Jake Williams
Written by: Jake Williams
Music by: Matthew Jordan Leeds
Cast: Jake Williams (narrator), various
Bright Sun Films, 78 Minutes, 57 Minutes (festival cut)
Closed for Storm tells the story of a once great theme park on the edge of New Orleans. It was unfortunately wrecked hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While it started out as Jazzland in 2000, it was bought by Six Flags and renamed Six Flags New Orleans in 2003.
Six Flags had big plans for the park but once Hurricane Katrina hit the area, priorities in New Orleans, in general, changed.
Additionally, the park was flooded and had incredible damage. Over time, it was looted and vandalized and Six Flags decided to cut their losses. Today, it just sits there, vacant.
This documentary interviews people that were involved with the theme park, those who were regular visitors and those who live in the surrounding community, who were promised a lot from the development of the park but now have an eyesore in their backyards that has had the opposite effect of what was promised to them.
This is also a sad story about the death of a piece of Americana. It reminded me a lot of the recent documentary I watched called Jasper Mall, which told the story of a once busy and successful shopping mall that has, in recent years, just barely been able to stay afloat.
Also, growing up in South Florida, I lived through a similar situation when Hurricane Andrew put the nail in the coffin for Six Flags Atlantis, just north of Miami. It was a place I loved to go to and tried to coerce my dad into taking me a few times per year.
I enjoyed this documentary quite a bit and it does leave you with some hope regarding the defunct park. People keep coming up with plans for the site and it’s probably only a matter of time before a trigger is pulled. Although, it probably won’t become another theme park. Just like Six Flags Atlantis was steamrolled and turned into a shopping center.
Release Date: April 26th, 2008 (San Francisco International Film Festival)
Directed by: Theodore Thomas
Written by: Theodore Thomas
Music by: James Stemple
Cast: Walt Disney (archive footage), various
Theodore Thomas Productions, Walt Disney Studios,106 Minutes
Walt & El Grupo is the story of Walt Disney’s 1941 US government sponsored trip to Latin America with a group of other artists in an attempt to study the culture in an effort to create two of Disney’s World War II era animated features: Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.
Considering that I really like those two movies, quite a bit, it was cool finally seeing the story behind their creation.
For those that don’t know, those movies were made to get Americans interested in traveling to the beautiful, exotic nations south of us. The films also gave us one of my favorite Disney animated characters, José Carioca! Granted, I also like Panchito Pistoles but José takes the cake for me.
Walt Disney was always a fascinating figure to me, so learning the reasons behind why he did this was pretty neat. It was also nice learning about who went with him and what they all were looking for and how they created the iconic material that they did from this Latin American adventure.
It was really cool seeing what the culture was like in Latin America in the early 1940s and kind of comparing that to where those places are at now. I like that this documentary showed these places in the modern era, in an effort to illustrate their changes and growth. Granted, that wasn’t the bulk of the story here.
The most important thing about this documentary is that it simply helps you understand Walt’s creative process, his business mind and his passion.
Original Run: November 12th, 2019 – December 13th, 2019
Created by: Leslie Iwerks
Directed by: Leslie Iwerks
Written by: Mark Catalena
Music by: Jeffrey Kryka
Cast: Angela Bassett (narrator), various
Iwerks & Co., Disney+, 6 Episodes, 62-68 Minutes (per episode)
In the last few years, I’ve started to take many documentaries with a grain of salt. Reason being, they always have an objective and typically tend to lean towards their preconceived biases, ignoring things that may actually challenge or disprove their message.
This is especially true when a documentary about a subject is made by the subject itself. For instance, for those who know anything about the wrestling business beyond the WWE, when they watch WWE documentaries, they know that it’s from the company’s point-of-view and that they often times don’t tell the whole story, alter the story for their benefit or completely ignore or gloss over some of the darker, unpleasant things.
I’ve got to say, though, as dishonest and “woke” as Disney has become with their output, this seemed to be pretty straightforward and fairly objective. It also included many key people from Disney’s past and didn’t really seem to sugarcoat things or censor the talking heads who may have had issues with Disney after moving on by their choice or the company’s.
That being said, I enjoyed this quite a bit and binged through it over a rainy Sunday afternoon.
It talks about Disney’s Imagineers from their earliest days up to modern times. Each of the six episodes moves forward and covers a different era of the many theme parks, their creation at the earliest stages, their design and engineering challenges, as well as their birth into the world and how they were perceived by the people who worked on them, the company itself and the public, who just want the best experience money can buy.
My only real complaint about this, and it’s probably just my personal preference, is that I wish they spent more time on the earliest stuff. I honestly don’t feel like one episode on Walt Disney, the man, and the genesis of the original Disneyland was enough. Granted, each episode could’ve been beefed up to two hours apiece and I’d still find this enjoyable.
The Imagineering Story is pretty damn cool if you’re into this stuff.