Strange Brew (1983), or Hamlet On Ice… With Rick Moranis

27 06 2009

Fun fun fun. That’s what I have to say about this movie. I had a blast with this buddy comedy from the minds of two of the best and brightest from SCTV. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas create a chemistry together that is just perfect for what ales ya. And you know, with all this talk of chemistry and ales, it’s a good thing that this is a comedy primarily about beer, otherwise the writing on this website would not be nearly as original and fresh (January 1st is this site’s Born-On date; HA!!!). The McKenzie brothers characters from the classic SCTV of the late 70s and early 80s are just two buddies who love hockey, beer, and being Canadian, and that’s the heart of this nutty comedy. But believe it or not, we’re also getting into Shakespearean territory here. You see, Strange Brew is on the surface all fun and games, but looking into the plot structure just a little bit further, we see that we have basically a comedic recreation of Hamlet!!!

That’s right! With the two hosers playing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the film is a fun and loose take on the classic play, although with a LOT more emphasis on the antics of the two brothers. After losing their jobs, the McKenzies have an ingenious plan to get some money from popular beer company Elsinore Brewery (Ahhhh…), which is sticking a mouse in an empty bottle, and telling the company that they found it in there and demand compensation. Astoundingly, this works, and they are given a dream job of working at the brewery. While working there (and dicking around during their shift), they come to uncover a plot for world domination by the evil Brewmeister Smith, who plans to put some sort of mind control drug in the beer to put people under his control. Can they save the world by stopping Brewmeister Smith with the help of Pam, the would-be owner of the company whose father recently died and whose mother also recently shacked up with Pam’s uncle, who is in league with Brewmeister Smith himself? Who cares, let’s laugh at their goofy Canadian accents!!!

Before Rick Moranis was big 80s real estate in America, he was an up-and-coming sketch comedy star in Canada, where he was born and raised. This movie, directed by both Moranis and Thomas, is a love letter to the stereotypical Canadians of the world. The McKenzies are beer-drinking, hockey-loving nitwits who talk in colloquialisms so deep that they almost need subtitles. They’re just regular dudes who like to have a good time, and their unassuming and Canada-centric humor makes us have a good time vicariously. The two play the characters to the T, and I’m smiling a little just thinking about it.

This website has a huge crush on today’s villain, Brewmeister Smith. He’s played by the one, the only Max Von Sydow!!! What an acquisition these guys made! By the time that this film came out, Sydow was doing more accessible films that didn’t require much thought (Dune, anyone?), but it’s still a treat to see one of my favorite dramatic actors play for kicks in a goofball comedy. He really vamps it up, and I especially love his trademark Swedish accent being used to bolster the evilness of a character like Brewmeister Smith. They better have paid him well, is all I’m saying, because no matter what he does, Sydow goes in all the way, so he makes for quite an entertaining baddie here.

It’s really dumb and slightly presumptuous, the way it plays it’s brand of humor, but I wouldn’t change one line of this comedy for fear of messing up something so deliriously fun. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t wear on you. The jokes are so classic you could just use it as smile-inducing background noise (“If I didn’t have puke-breath, Id kiss ya…”). There’s just an aura of looseness around the movie, a looseness that gives way to a natural comedy style. You know the kind, when you and your friends are telling jokes back and forth just to make each other laugh. No pressure, no worries. That’s how it is here, and it just does it for me. I like it, and once you find it in a clearance bin near you (it’s not thought of too highly, for some reason), you might like it too. I give Strange Brew 7 1/2 Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns out of 10. Enjoy, you hosers!

Tomorrow’s review is a surprise! I’ll make sure to make it worth your while!

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3 responses

29 06 2009
goregirl

Bob and Doug MacKenzie always evoke happy childhood memories for me. I was a HUGE fan of SCTV. Although I was all about the Edith Prickley and Johnny Larue. But like most kids I knew, I had the Bob and Doug album THE GREAT WHTIE NORTH. There was a track on the album called ‘Be Our Guest’ (or something like that). Bob and Doug would yack and ask you questions and there would be a long blank spot in the dialog so you could add your comments. I would record myself being interviewed by Bob and Doug over and over. Hours of entertainment!

30 06 2009
cinematronica

I didn’t know they had an album!!!! I gotta check this out now! Those guys were hilarious! Thanks for the heads up!

16 10 2013
Top 5 Fictional Beers | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly

[…] best movie ever made about beer. Brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie embark on a silly beer adventure loosely based on Hamlet. It is unclear exactly what style of beer Elsinore is, but watch out for mice in bottles or mind […]

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