Alfred Hitchcock proved in The Trouble with Harry that there’s fun to be had in a black comedy about a group of people dragging around a dead body while keeping the person’s demise a secret for a certain period of time. Of course, the makers of Weekend at Bernie’s don’t have the dry, droll wit or the directorial expertise of an Alfred Hitchcock, but there are a few scattered laughs amid the silliness and absurdity of this manic black farce.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 38 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 05/06/2014
When Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) discover a $2 million error in the bookkeeping at their insurance firm, they take it to their hotshot boss Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser) in an attempt to earn some brownie points with him. He invites them to his beach house in the Hamptons for the weekend with the intention of having them rubbed out by his mafia connection Paulie (Don Calfa) since Bernie is the one who’s embezzling company funds to finance his extravagant lifestyle. But the mob decides Bernie is the one who needs to be dead, and when the guys arrive and find him dead with drug paraphernalia on him, they resist calling the police right away not wanting to appear involved in what they think is an accidental overdose. As the weekend goes on, they eventually discover what actually happened to Bernie and assume the hit man will be coming for them next leading to a madcap series of mishaps and mistakes with Bernie’s corpse tagging along for most of their weekend activities.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
Robert Klane’s screenplay is long on comic set-ups, but there are mostly feeble payoffs. In fact, were it not for the inspired deadpan performance of Terry Kiser as the corpse, the laugh quotient for the film would be amazingly low since its two living farceurs Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman’s tandem work is more frenetic than funny, and McCarthy’s selfish, thoughtless Larry is particularly unappealing. The script also tries to work in a love story for Silverman’s more noble Richard, but it intrudes at all the wrong moments and isn’t particularly interesting. (There’s a needless seduction scene at his parents’ home before the farce gets going that slows the film to a crawl.) Director Ted Kotcheff does occasionally have Bernie’s corpse float in or turn up at odd moments that earn genuine laughter, but his directorial hand deserts him in the film’s final third with a truly frantic slapstick sequence at the marina (when the fellas conveniently forget that Bernie is supposed to be IN the boat with them) and the return of the unbalanced, berserk hit man to the beach manse where the guys have returned after failing to make their escape (a real eye-rolling set of circumstances to get them back to that house). This is the kind of film that improves considerably if one just turns off his brain and lets the comic mayhem build to overflowing. Trying to make any sense out of a completely ridiculous situations here throws a stink bomb into the middle of the fun.
Besides the middling work by Silverman (who is the better of the two leads) and McCarthy and the outstanding pantomime work by Kiser, the film’s other major roles are not played with much distinction. Catherine Mary Stewart as Richard’s love interest Gwen is rather wide-eyed but bland, and Bernie’s mafia girl friend Tina as played by Catherine Parks is stereotypically bimbo in manner and cognizance. Don Calfa’s hit man Paulie is another cartoonish creation who becomes progressively more unbalanced as his continual death strokes to his intended victim don’t seem to bring about the desired results.
The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with the 1080p transfer (AVC codec) delivering a very satisfying picture. Sharpness isn’t always completely crisp; there are some sequences which seem only above average in sharpness, but the latter half of the movie is consistently solid and sharp. Color is quite well delineated with rich depth to the hues and believable skin tones. Black levels are also very good throughout. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo sound mix presents an uneven listening experience. While dialogue has been well recorded and always comes through strongly, the film’s sound occasionally collapses into the center channel giving it a mono ambience rather than stereo. Andy Summers’ background score does boast nice fidelity at various points of the film, but the constant ambience of the busy Hamptons in summer doesn’t always come through with surety.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Theatrical Trailer (2:35, HD)
Special Features Rating: 0.5/5
Empty-headed but nevertheless fitfully amusing, Weekend at Bernie’s offers up a sub-level farce that occasionally works even with only middling work from its stars and director. The video reproduction, however, is very satisfying which fans of the film will undoubtedly appreciate.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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