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The movie has been cut and altered on this US Blu-ray
on 15 June 2014
I remember seeing TV spots for this movie in Florida in 1989 and thinking that it made for a great concept. When I eventually rented the VHS tape a few months later it really appealed to my dark sense of humor and I ended up watching it a zillion times. In the 25 years since its release it has become very dated. It's not dated BADLY, but it has aged more than other films of the period.
Corporate slackers Richard and Larry (Ted Mosby prototype Jonathan Silverman and 80s person Andrew McCarthy) discover a $4,000,000 fraud hidden away in the cooked books. Their attempt to impress their boss Bernie Lomax (a lovably smug Terry Kiser) with their find leads to an invitation to his Hampton Island home for a summer weekend of babes, booze, and boats. The duo don't realize that they've stumbled on Bernie's embezzlement scam and that he intends to have them quietly killed by the Mob (the organized crime connections are never fully detailed or understood). Mob Boss Vito instead arranges for Bernie to be killed, thus washing his hands of him.
Upon arriving at Bernie's lavish home Richard and Larry discover that he ain't quite breathing and most definitely has ceased living. For a variety of reasons they plot to create the illusion that Bernie is still alive, which proves to be easier done than said as his vacuous, drunken neighbors are more interested in drinking his champagne and mooching parties from him than actually being friends.
Despite the dark subject matter Weekend at Bernie's plays it safe for the most part, never pushing past its PG-13 boundaries. The physicality of Kiser's performance is impressive as well as funny. You really do believe he is dead and he's brilliant at keeping a straight face (or a smirking one as he dies during a brief moment of pleasure) while being tossed and thrown around. You wouldn't think that playing a dead body would be hard but Kiser's comic timing and skill really pay off.
The production design and flat photography are what date this film so much. Although Ted Kotcheff had Wake in Fright and First Blood on his resume by this point he brings very little visual flair to the film and it looks very TV-ish. The poor score by Andy Summers never seems to work with any scene (I have a feeling that his friend Stewart Copeland would have done a better job) and some of the soundtrack choices grate on the ears.
What amazes me the most is that about 90% of the dialogue is (bad) ADR. I assume that the sound guy forgot to switch on the mic or something. I can accept it when it comes to dubbing over several F-bombs to keep the movie family-friendly but you'll be surprised at how often the words simply do not match the lips.
Skip the sequel. Enjoy this movie for what it is, though it could have been better if it were a few shades darker. And lookout for a hilarious cameo from the director as Richard's dad/butler.
The Blu-ray looks great in 1.85:1 1080p, the best the film has ever looked on home video by a longshot. The DTS HD-MA 2.0 sound really does make the constant ADR even more obvious. The menu has the nerve to list "extras" (plural) but offers only a single trailer.
There also appears to be many other cuts and edits to this movie on the Blu-ray to make it less raunchy that might irritate some fans. I distinctly remember the film being more adult than this (but I am used to the UK 15-rated version not the US PG-13 version featured on this disc).