Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I could make a cheap joke about WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S II being the scariest movie I've reviewed on this blog, but that would be inappropriate since humor and this 1993 misfire are mutually exclusive. In his book I HATED, HATED, HATED THIS MOVIE (one of my favorite collections of film criticism), Roger Ebert illustrates what a creative wasteland celluloid comedy was in the early nineties with such lacerating reviews of CLIFFORD, MILK MONEY, and NORTH, but nowhere does he mention director Robert Klane's frighteningly unfunny follow-up to the apparently successful 1987 original; perhaps because it doesn't take a master critic like Mr. Ebert to explain why this movie flat-out sucks.

I guess Klane (who also wrote the first film) had plenty of unanswered questions burning from the previous WEEKEND and thus felt compelled to make this one. In a premise convoluted enough to befuddle Christopher Nolan, returning stars Andrew McCarthy and Johnathan Silverman (has there been a more chemistry-barren comedic duo? Robert Blake and Scott Wilson got more laughs with IN COLD BLOOD) find themselves unemployed and under investigation due to the events of the first film and head back to St. Thomas to clear their names. Trying to beat them to the $2 million still up for grabs are a pair of anonymous bad guys--who're given so little screen time I have no clue who they are, but they dress like villains from MIAMI VICE so we know they're up to no good--recruit a voodoo priestess to resurrect Bernie's no-worse-for-wear corpse to lead them to the missing cash. The priestess, for no discernable reason, enlists a pair of lackeys to perform the ceremony; they of course screw it up, and Bernie can only move toward the money when music is playing. (The two voodoo henchman are played by the late actor/stuntman Steve James and Tom Wright--who knows a thing or two about zombies, having played one in CREEPSHOW 2's hitchhiker segment--and are portrayed in the broadest possible sketches, coming one chitlin joke away from being offensive Stepin Fetchit stereotypes.) And let us not forget Barry Bostwick, who tails McCarthy and Silverman to prove their complicity.

With a plot like that the laughs should be come every thirteen seconds, right? Right?

At any point during the course of making this movie did anyone find anything about this story funny? The appeal, such as it was, of WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S was the various slapstick abuses visited upon Bernie's corpse; there's some of that here, but for the most part we're expected to sit back and howl as Bernie hip-thrusts along to calypso music on his way to the stolen loot. The story is built upon a foundation of unfunny and belabored set-pieces that have all the comedic impact of white noise. In a typical example of the movie's approach, Bostwick is either an efficient investigator or a bumbling oaf, whichever the current situation needs, often resorting to the last desperate grasp of the terminally uninspired--the simple pratfall. Silverman and McCarthy are as charisma-free as ever, especially the latter who evokes a bygone era when protagonists could say "Look at the tits on that one" and still be expected to be likable. I laughed exactly once during WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S II, at an asinine JAWS parody during the movie's finale, and even then it wasn't the humor but the filmmakers' audacity to include such an utterly stupid gag.

I'd tell you this movie's a waste of time, but that would insult your intelligence. Remarkable only in its chutzpah (though it at least served as a plot point in a really great SEINFELD episode), WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S II will have your brains dribbling out your ears by the midpoint.

A taste of stupidity:

And the trailer, which condensed all the stupidity into a two-minute clip:

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