This Movie Was Shot in 3B - Three Beers - and It Looks Good, eh?
So, suppose you’re a successful comedy show with two tongue-in-cheek characters deliberately made as stereotypical as possible. They become wildly popular beyond explanation. What do you do with Bob & Doug McKenzie? Give them Shakespeare and make a movie, of course! Hamlet meets hosers in Strange Brew, and it’s been many years since I saw it last. I recall copious drinking, Three Stooges-esque antics, and no end of “eh”s. So, since I’d rather do anything than my readings for Public Law, let’s get this real-time review going!
Just before I hit “play” on this netbook, a quick word about the characters, without getting too deep into their SCTV appearances. Bob & Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) are unemployed beer-drinking hosers living at home with their parents. Their portrayal of dim-witted adult brothers seems to have hit a resonant note in Canada and abroad, since they reprised their relationship in Brother Bear as the moose brothers Tuke & Rutt. Despite continual insults, drinking contests, general stupidity and antagonism, there’s a deeper affinity that keeps them together, and, more importantly, playing off each other. The chemistry, although sometimes muted, is what sustains an otherwise lacklustre plot — it’s not just Hamlet set in a brewery, it’s a character vehicle for — oh fuck it, I’ll just turn off my law brain and let this thing rip.
0:00 - The MGM lion’s not roaring. The hosers try cranking his tail to no effect. I’ve already lost count of uses of “eh” and have a bad feeling if this were to be some kind of drinking game.
10:10 - The hosers get home, have some donuts, and crack open three beers, one of which gets poured into a dog bowl labelled “Hosehead.” Apparently the family dog’s a homicidal drunk who doesn’t take kindly to having his beer confiscated unless there’s a jelly donut in the equation. Uh-oh, there’s no more beer and Dad is thirsty. It doesn’t help that they gave away the beer money.
12:24 - They try get a free beer from the store using the mouse in a bottle trick (now I’m having Torts flashbacks involving snails in ginger beer. Damn you law school!), only to be shut out and sent to the brewery for the freebie.
14:20 - The boys have to ram a vehicle trapped in the brewery gates. It turns out to have the heiress apparent to the brewery in it. Did I mention there’s a loony bin just down the road from the brewery?
14:50 - Video surveillance and cheesy synthesizer music. Looks like the boys have foiled some kind of scheme, masterminded by Max Von Sydow’s Brewmeister Smith. It seems the Elsinore patriarch (John) died recently and his brother Claude promptly married the widow, taking over the brewery, until the daughter (Pam) turned 21 today and turned down the buyout option. She’s keen to return the brewery to a family business with workers rather than surveillance cameras everywhere.
20:00 - The mouse in the bottle trick worked, after a fashion. Rather than free beer, the boys have jobs supervising the bottling line. Foxes, meet henhouse.
21:20 - Drugs in the beer? Lunatics from the asylum? Someone’s planning a little world domination (complete with lit-up map)! But why do the lunatics become heavily armoured, masked hockey players? Convenient that one of them (Rosie) is a former hockey player carrying a torch for Pam.
28:05 - There’s a haunted arcade game in the cafeteria, with the real footage of John Elsinore’s death. Murder!
37:00 - Smith & Claude just framed the hosers for murder. It seems Pam and her assistant Henry are destined for a road trip inside beer kegs. The boys will be driving them lakeward without working brakes.
48:00 - The boys end up in the lake and the keg carrying Pam breaks open on impact, where she’s rescued by Rosie, who sinks to land on top of the hosers’ van.
51:30 - Police divers goes to recover the bodies only to find Rosie and the boys sucking air from copious amounts of empty bottles. A cop knocks on the driver’s window, and Doug pulls out his license. Topside it turns out they’re charged with kidnapping
55:45 - …and Doug’s got the tough guys in the holding cell believing they’re hardened murderers. Until their lawyer shows up, anyway.
58:50 - Now the Brewmeister’s lair is haunted and he’s convinced the boys knew exactly what to do to incriminate him.
59:59 - The hosers’ lawyer just beat the shit out of the reporters. “Remind me to pay his bill on time eh.” “Yeah, Chuck Norris for the defense.”
1:01:23 - “Just because I don’t know what it is, doesn’t mean I’m lying.” Yeah, Claude’s slimy all right.
1:04:24 - So, to sum up, Brewmeister/Dr. Smith now has Pam and the hosers in his care. There’s a lobotomy and two bookings for electroshock in the future. Except that the hosers start electroshocking each other for fun first.
1:11:30 - Oktoberfest is where the drugged beer’s supposed to be handed out. Evil plan underway! But every evil plan needs complications — Rosie’s broken Pam and the hosers out of the loony bin and it’s time to party. Also, for good measure, the haunted lair’s acting up and the power’s gone wonky.
1:13:32 - Smith’s got Pam and Bob in a giant vat, and it’s filling up with beer.
1:17:10 - Hands up if you foresaw Smith dying by the lights of his world domination map burning through his body. That must have been one hell of a power surge!
1:17:30 - The haunted lair just told Rosie to go check the giant vat and save Pam and Bob. Oh look, the police are coming! They get to the 6000 gallon vat to find…”I can’t believe he drank it all!” “Geez I gotta take a leak so bad I can taste it!” I guess when you’re a hoser, drowning in beer takes a distant second to the option of giving your liver and bladder a workout. Especially when it’s free!
1:20:34 - So Pam gets to the haunted cafeteria with Henry to find a glowing red ghost of her father projecting instructions on the wall. “Oktoberfest! Stop them! Nice effects, eh!” The ghost sets the loony bin on fire, which gets extinguished by a very bloated Bob McKenzie, saving the real firemen the trouble of using their hoses. In other news, MXC’s Golden Shower Boy dejectedly starts flipping through the want ads.
1:22:00 - There’s a thirsty crowd at Oktoberfest waiting for the drugged beer. Who can save them? After a mad dash to the McKenzie home, Bob asks all the police escorts who ran the stop sign to fix a few parking tickets. Here comes Doug, leading Hosehead the dog, painted like a skunk. This oughtta be fun! Free beer and sausages? Superdog away! He flies! He has a cape! He clears the tent, saves the day, and gets to eat!
1:26:30 - The boys selflessly volunteer to dispose of the drugged beer so Rosie and Pam can get together. Doug claims to know how to drive the 10-speed truck (“5 speed times two!”, “I won’t crash this, it’s a beer truck!”) and credits roll, with the hosers on their Great White North set, quite drunk, commenting on the movie and the credits.
Jeez, what a show. I won’t claim it’s any kind of intelligent, but all throughout it there’s the simple essentials of Canadian life - beer, hockey, and more beer. For brevity’s sake I’ve left out scenes such as bullets being used to stop a nosebleed - there’s some good physical humour and puns throughout, and for many Canucks it’s a warmly nostalgic movie. Not any kind of excellent, but fun in its own charming way. Especially considering when it was made, and given the enduring affection for the McKenzie brothers, it remains a cornerstone of Canadian culture in a very self-deprecating way. And what could possibly be more Canadian?
lordhelmet is a first-year law student sadly short on time for movies and hockey. A proud Canuck and Vancouverite, he’s trying to make time for the Olympics while living on The Other Coast.
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