DVD Review HTF Review: Weekend at Bernie's

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Jun 29, 2005.

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  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    [​IMG]

    Weekend at Bernie’s




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1989
    Rated: PG-13
    Running Time: 98 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1); Fullscreen (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    Audio: English – Stereo Surround; Spanish – Stereo Surround





    Release Date:
    July 12th, 2005



    While it contains other flaws, Weekend at Bernie’s is a movie that was essentially sundered by one big miscalculation - it relies almost completely on a single running gag (only a moderately funny gag, at that) to carry the picture. Think of some of the movies starring former Saturday Night Live-alumni, and you should get a great mental picture of the type of film I am referring to; those that try to stretch a 3-minute skit into a feature film, usually with precious little success. Unfortunately, like many of said films, Weekend at Bernie’s tries to eek too much mileage out of this single joke (described below), which causes its welcome to wear out very quickly.

    With respect to its story, Weekend at Bernie’s is a simply-plotted tale of two ordinary guys, Richard (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry (Andrew McCarthy), who are trying to make names for themselves at the company they work for, so they can live “the life”. Shortly into the film, the duo discovers that someone has embezzled millions of dollars, and rushes to tell their boss the good news, hoping it will lead to promotions. What they couldn’t possibly know, however, is that their boss, Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), is the embezzler they have stumbled onto, and his reward for their good work will be to have them silenced - permanently!

    To avoid arousing suspicion, Mr. Lomax acts as if he is intent on getting to the bottom of the matter, and happy his employees are so attentive to detail. He expresses this phony gratitude by inviting the eagle-eyed duo to his posh beach house, where they will discuss their find over the weekend. Unfortunately for Bernie, the weekend never comes, for a mobster upset with some of his other transgressions kills him! Shortly thereafter, things really get going, as Bernie’s subordinates arrive to talk business, and find that their boss is quite unable to participate.

    Obviously, this grim and unexpected discovery leaves Richard and Larry frightened and confused, but they are able to stimulate just enough brain cells to formulate a not-so-brilliant plan after a group of people Bernie had invited over come by to party – and no one seems to notice their host is dead! Seeing this, the two morons elect not to call the authorities, but that is no surprise, since there would have been no movie if they did! Instead, they foolishly choose to endanger themselves by lugging Bernie’s corpse around with them, and making him appear to be alive, until they can figure out exactly what is going on.

    Over the rest of their wild weekend, Richard and Larry stumble their way through a variety of misadventures, and tons of physical comedy – typically involving Mr. Lomax’s corpse! On that note, let me continue by telling you that I always give films, especially comedies, a LOT of latitude to work, but I just found this running joke to be too repetitive (and morbid) to laugh at as the film played on. Obviously, you will have to judge for yourself whether the humor in Weekend at Bernie’s is something you want to see or not, but I just did not find Bernie’s body tumbling over obstacles, or bouncing down flights of stairs, to be particularly gut-busting after the first couple of times.

    Again, I confess that the first few shenanigans involving Bernie did make me laugh, but this is more for Terry Kiser’s lively rendition of a corpse (a contradiction in terms, but true) than anything else. The sad truth is that Bernie’s body being battered continually becomes much too repetitive, and equally less amusing, as the film runs – not to mention the fact that the repeated desecration of a corpse is somewhat morbid, as I opined earlier.

    Speaking of desecration, another rather repetitive sub-element of the plot involves the already dead Bernie being re-murdered – repeatedly – by same the Mafia hit man (Don Kalfa) who initially took his life. The joke (or attempt at one) is that the assassin demonstrates increasing frustration and astonishment that Bernie continues to appear, despite being killed numerous times. Ultimately, Bernie’s encore appearances cause the flustered hit man to become more determined than ever to ensure Bernie meets his maker, which in turn makes Richard and Larry desperate to leave get home, before they too become marked men.

    As far as the performances are concerned, I will begin by repeating what I said above, namely that Terry Kiser was pretty lively and amusing in Weekend at Bernie’s! To me, this is especially amazing because the man was playing a dead body! Sadly, the other actors in the film never transcend mediocrity, although I would say that could probably be attributed at least in part to the source material they had to deal with. In any event, whatever the reason, when an actor portraying a dead man gives one of the most spirited performances in a film, it does not bode well.

    To sum up my feelings about Weekend at Bernie’s, I’ll say this: though I laughed a little, the idea was insufficient to sustain my interest for the film’s running time, because it requires way too much suspension of disbelief. For instance, how could Bernie be so limber after rigor began to set in? How could so many people not notice the stench of Bernie’s decomposing body?

    Frankly, I just don’t see it…how so many people could behave in such an outlandish and unbelievable fashion; behavior that makes it virtually impossible to make any real investment in these characters or the events they face in Weekend at Bernie’s! In my opinion, all but people willing to completely detach themselves from reality will probably become rapidly disinterested in whatever might happen during the latter stages of Bernie’s weekend. Thanks for the invite Bernie, but I have better plans…






    SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
    Though MGM does offer this film in a 16x9 enhanced widescreen (1.85:1) presentation on one side of this flipper (“foolscreen” on the other side) disc, I have to say this film really does not look very good by today’s standards. To begin with, although colors are usually nicely saturated, making it is easy to see just how loud Silverman and McCarthy’s wardrobes were, the most vibrant tones (especially reds) are prone to smearing. The actors’ skin tones also appeared to have too much of a bronze tint to them.

    The image is also rather inconsistent, in terms of to clarity, with some scenes looking good, others exhibiting only minor print flaws, and still others looking almost as bad as a dubbed VHS. A good example of the latter is the final scene in the film, which is terribly grainy. Finally, detail is quite sub-par, even in close-up shots, and the film’s below average black level leads to a fairly “flat” appearance and only a decent amount of shadow delineation.

    Frankly, although this is not the worst image transfer I have ever seen, it certainly does not appear that too much effort was put into making this film look its best on DVD! Given how far the average DVD has come since the format’s earliest days, in terms of technical quality this can only be regarded as a disappointment! Even a film as inferior as Weekend at Bernie’s deserved better.



    WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
    In contrast to the sub-par image transfer, the Stereo Surround track for Weekend at Bernie’s actually presents the film’s audio information in a respectable manner. The best news is that the inane dialogue is reproduced cleanly, without any obvious deficiencies, so every word the characters are saying can be heard without much effort. Although not spectacular, frequency response is good overall, and separation across the front channels is decent as well.

    Your rear speakers, however, see only moderate action, and are used chiefly to emit ambient noise and to provide some subtle reinforcement for the upbeat “tropical” music in the film. As you might expect though, most of the audio sits squarely in the front of the listening space, so scenes set in busier environments do not seem as realistic as they should be. Similarly, LFE support is mild, and confined to fleshing out the score and a handful of the film’s sound effects.

    It sure won’t overwhelm you, but all things considered, this is a decent soundtrack, and it suits the source material fine. Too bad the image is not presented as well!


    EXTRAS, EXTRAS!!!


    Trailer
    The theatrical trailer for Weekend at Bernie’s is included.



    SCORE CARD

    (on a five-point scale)
    Film: [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG]



    THE LAST WORD
    Though Weekend at Bernie’s lightly tickled my funny bone a few times, the film’s repetitive nature and absurd premise made me lose interest in before the halfway mark – and believe me, I gave the film a fair chance. Simply put, this film requires an unbelievable ability to suspend disbelief, and I just could not stop thinking, “How can these idiots not notice that Bernie is d-e-a-d!” As a result, I was unable to make any sort of connection with these characters, or develop any interest in their eventful weekend.

    As far as presentation is concerned, MGM has really done very little to enhance the film’s visuals, and although the soundtrack is respectable, fans of the film will also be disappointed to find that the disc is completely devoid of extras! Although the presentation is disappointing, and I would have liked to see more effort put in, I am not too surprised that attention was not lavished on this particular title.

    So, where does that leave us? Should we spend a weekend with Bernie or not? Well, taste in films is a subjective matter, so I think it will depend on whether or nor you like this film already, or its premise appeals to you. If this film’s premise doesn’t sound appealing, I think the answer is a definite no, especially given that the disc doesn’t measure up by today’s standards (even for catalog product)! True enough, the film is stupid/funny on occasion, but it really is a premise that probably would have been better served via a short skit, not a feature film. That being said, I think booking a vacation at Bernie’s island paradise is likely to be a waste of your time, and recommend that you go somewhere else this summer!


    Stay tuned…
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I think this is a hilarious movie, as long as you play along with it.
     
  3. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    I agree with Patrick.
     
  4. Christian Preischl

    Christian Preischl Screenwriter

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    Funny, I watched the DVD yesterday and actually was quite pleased with the transfer, considering the film's age and... well... status in film history. [​IMG]

    Very little dirt and print damage, a nice clean image, admittedly not too good on detail but overall very acceptable.

    About the grain you mention in the final shot: When that scene came up my only thought was "must be the final shot". I'm not too knowledgable about the technical details, but I think the grain's there because that shot ran through the optical printer because the end credits start in that shot and then fade to black. You can see that type of thing a lot in older films and TV shows when there's a fade.

    I remember always having fun as a kid announcing the final shot on "The Fall Guy", even though I had no idea why it looked different. Anyway, you can't really fault the DVD for that.

    Chris
     
  5. Jeff D Han

    Jeff D Han Supporting Actor

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    I'll be getting this 16x9 version, and getting rid
    of my old letterbox Artisan DVD. I think it's a great
    guilty pleasure! [​IMG]
     
  6. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    eh, it's a cheesy cult comedy flick. The type of movie you put on when you're friends are over late at night and possibly not in a sober mental state to simply laugh at it's stupidity and not take it seriously. It's one of those guilty popcorn flicks, like 3 Ninjas or the Ernest movies.

    It probably has more appeal to those of us who grew up in the early 80's and picked it off the shelf at a rental store with a friend along with Tremors or something, while their parents waited at the register to pay and stayed up late having a sleep-over and watching it in the livingroom. It's that type of movie, definitely not a work of cinematic brilliance but it has it's place imo.

    And I for one am glad that it's a plain old barebones disc... not every title needs to be a special edition packed with extras and whatnot. I'd say if the studio did actually devote effort to lacing Weekend At Bernies with a bunch of hammy bonus features, it'd be going overboard. Extras should be reserved for quality films, to offer insight or perspective into the story or production, etc. and offer additional comments or views toward the movie or dvd. This is one of those movies that certainly isn't deserving. A good quality transfer and cheap price tag is all a movie like this shoudl warrant and it seems to be what we've gotten.

    It's not at the top of my want list, but I'll eventually get around to picking it up...
     
  7. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    Well, it seems the only advantage to the previously released version is 16x9 enhancement. I'll be in no rush to trade up.
     
  8. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    a childhood favourite!!

    Thanks for the review, Jason...I'm sorry you didn't like it as much as we all did!!

    Mike
     
  9. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    Count me in as another one who loves this film. I'll definitely pick up this version.[​IMG]
     
  10. Bill Thomann

    Bill Thomann Supporting Actor

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    Love the film & can't wait for it (preordered from DDD). Wish the quality was better but I'm sure I'll be happy with it since it's now anamorphic.
     
  11. Patrick Picking

    Patrick Picking Auditioning

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    Is this the second release of this film? I just bought this three weeks ago in the $5.50 bin, and the cover looks the same.
     
  12. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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  13. James L White

    James L White Supporting Actor

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    if someone can comapre this MGM and Artisan DVDs does the MGM DVD look washed out? The old Artisan DVd was washed out bug time [​IMG]
     
  14. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Well, considering that I got my old copy for free for ordering a large pizza from Papa John's, I will most definitley be getting this one. [​IMG]

    This freaking film is hilarious! [​IMG] It's not just that, though, I love the party all night aura of the film, and the great beach photography that almost makes you feel as if your at the beach on a warm and beautiful sunny day.

    In fact, the island of St. Thomas photography is the only reason to see the sequel. I fell in love with the place and wanted to go there!
     
  15. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

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    a classic.
     
  16. Grant H

    Grant H Cinematographer

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    Yes, how does it compare to the Aritsan version?

    My father has seen it air on satellite in far superior quality to the Artisan DVD. That really was washed out. There must be a startling difference between what's being shown on TV and the old DVD if my father commented on it.

    Is this the transfer they're using for television broadcasts? If so, worth the upgrade.
     
  17. Noah U

    Noah U Auditioning

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    I also loved this movie when I saw it the theater many years ago. I am only disappointed that it is a double-sided DVD.
     
  18. PatH

    PatH Second Unit

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    Jason:

    You asked how these 2 can't know that Bernie's d-e-a-d? They do, but I guess that's part of the joke you didn't get. Sorry you didn't like the movie; I did, but even I thought Weekend At Bernie's 2 was a little forced.

    PatH
     
  19. mattGentle

    mattGentle Auditioning

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    This is one of the classic 80's films. I live in the UK - wonder if "Papa John's" would do a home delivery over here!

    BTW, don't suppose anyone has a scan of the DVD cover do they?
     

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