Strange Brew

"OK"

Strange Brew Review


"Eh?" might be the punch that Canadians are accused of ending each sentence with, but in the case of Strange Brew, it's also the sound of my incredulous eyebrow cocking up. I missed this one when it first came around (a probably very cold winter in 1983), but remember my fellow 4th grade classmates calling each other "hoser" and me having to bring in my hockey equipment for show and tell. I'm sure at that age I would have laughed up a storm. At 29, I'm confounded. Strange Brew is as memorable as a belch and just about that funny, yet its influence has stuck around like a 20-year hangover. Without Bob and Doug McKenzie, there would be no Wayne and Garth, no Bill and Ted, and certainly no $27 million opening for Jackass. Lorne Michaels, a quadrazillionaire thanks to this his streamlining of this brand of idiocy, would be making do with pity appearances on Hollywood Squares. Strange Brew did all of this in spite of itself. It's an astounding achievement with exactly zero forethought, a movie that shook up comedic film history by falling out of bed.

"Eh?"

It happened thanks to a five-minute sketch on Canada's SCTV called The Great White North where two biscuit-head brothers named Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) sit amongst cases of beer and argue with one another. The movie version gives them a plot where a sweet-faced beer heiress (Lynn Griffin) is about to lose the family business to her uncle (Paul Dooley) -- who killed her father and married her mother if it matters -- and the evil brewmaster (Max Von Sydow) who has concocted a serum to turn the human race into an army of serum-addicted marauding hockey players. It's up to Bob and Doug to save the day, and their hapless attempts to do so give the movie its juice.

That's pretty much it. Strange Brew can only be said to have a plot if "plot" means "window dressing for fart jokes." It can only be called a movie because someone committed it to celluloid and it's over 60 minutes long. The remainder is an episode of Great White North slathered around the place like that industrial carpet snow Chevy Chase rolled out in Christmas Vacation. Bob and Doug hurl insults like "hoser" and "take off!" at each other, drink lots, play-wrestle, and wear heavy winter coats and earmuffs indoors. A good thing is addressed as "beauty," "good day" a substitute for both "hello" and "goodbye." These apparently are all negative Canadian stereotypes. Commit them to memory and you're already imagining a richer movie then they did.

But is it funny? I suppose it could be if catch-phrases on endless playback is your thing. Or urine gags. There's some of those. And belching? Worth a giggle, eh?

Lack of laughter or reason for being might have sent me running back in 1983 when Strange Brew stumbled into theatres, but on the 2002 occasion of the DVD release, that hardly seems the point. Remember around that time most of the original, brilliant cast of Saturday Night Live had moved on. Chevy Chase was a marquee name thanks to Caddyshack and John Belushi was in the cold, cold ground. The incoming SNL class turned out to be a train wreck and future stars like Mike Myers and Dana Carvey were several years away. Wayne and Garth and Bill and Ted and Beavis and Butthead were a gleam in some madman's eye. The "dudes" comedy, as we know it now, did not exist.

Then Bob and Doug set the mold. Each of these nitwit pairs hit it big on TV through some unholy mating of cultural anachronism, lovable stupidity, and phrases that gate-crashed the language. They then tried to stretch the formula to feature length and while it usually ripped down the middle, it made everyone piles of money and turned those smart enough to parlay the good fortune into stars. That may have not happened to Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis (last both spotted a few miles outside Straight-to-Videoville) in any lasting way but the DVD lays out the initial impact of Bob and Doug McKenzie for all to see. The Great White North spawned an album, an animated series, and even got Moranis and Thomas inducted into the Order of Canada [As if that's a real thing. -Ed.]. Maybe the movie was a step too far and their kind of comedy is best swallowed in five-minute chunks followed quickly by a Labatts commericial. Maybe I'm just too late to the party and too sober to laugh. Either way, Strange Brew, incidental and faintly funny as it may be, was the start of a legacy much longer and significant than itself. That's worthy of a "Beauty, eh?" without any need for raised eyebrows.

Aka The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew.



Strange Brew

Facts and Figures

Run time: 42 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 21st July 2013

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Louis M. Silverstein

Starring: as Doug McKenzie, as Bob McKenzie, as Brewmeister Smith, as Claude Elsinore, Lynne Griffin as Pam Elsinore, Angus MacInnes as Jean LaRose

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.