Our review of Strange Brew (1983) (Blu-ray), published February 26th, 2016, is also available.
Take off eh, ya hoser.
Before Saturday Night Live spewed forth a feature length film based on every skit character ever created, SCTV gave birth to Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis' Canadian drinkers Bob and Doug McKenzie. These may very well have been the most popular characters from that TV sketch show, and dare I say the most interesting people to come OUT of Canada? No! Wait, I'm kidding! No hate mail from Canadians, please! Anyhow, in 1983 Thomas and Moranis co-wrote and co-directed the adventure of Doug and Bob McKenzie in the now-legendary cult classic Strange Brew. Fans will finally let out a sigh (or burp) of relief when they discover that the film is finally on DVD care of Warner Home Entertainment!
Facts of the Case
Bob and Doug McKenzie hit the big screen in their very first movie, Strange Brew! Our beer lovin', hockey playin' Canadian friends are about to do battle with the evil Smith (Max Von Sydow, Needful Things), a dastardly brewmeister who is plotting to take over world one beer drinker at a time! When Bob and Doug head over to the Elsinore beer factory to get free suds by stuffing a mouse in a beer bottle and passing it off as contaminated, they inadvertently wind up with new jobs! The factory is owned by the deceased founder's daughter, Pam Elsinore (Lynn Griffin, TV's Stephen King's Storm of the Century), and she smells a rat: Brewmeister Smith! As Bob and Doug dig deep into the factory's history (i.e., bumble their way around the building), they find a world domination plot so devious that only the wily charms and wit of these two unlikely heroes can stop it!
Okay, eh, so here's the deal with this movie: see, it's funny, okay, but it's also really goofy and, like, silly. I think I totally understand why this movie is so popular, you know? I don't know any other film that has tried to incorporate stuffing a mouse in a bottle to get free beer, Max Von Sydow as an arch nemesis, and Mel Blanc's voice as the main character's father's voice. It's all like very exciting, ya know? In fact, I may even go out on a limb and say that it may be more exciting than jelly donuts and beer. Okay, so maybe I'm being a knob—nothing's better than beer, right eh?
So, like the big question is, "Why has Strange Brew become such a big hit among comedy fans?" That's a good question there, hoser. I remember watching the movie when I was a kid over and over and over again and laughing like a drunken moose. There's just something intrinsically funny about Bob and Doug—they're kinda like Bill and Ted, version 1.0. Before there was Wayne and Garth, there was the McKenzie brothers. Before there was Abbott and Costello there was…okay, like maybe that's going too far back. I guess there's just something really entertaining about watching two guys being told by a judge to have order in his court and responding with, "Gimmie a toasted back bacon, hold the toast." Like, Strange Brew is filled with all kinds of witty and moronic dialogue, and I dare any of you knobs out there to try not laughing at Bob and Doug's frantically stupid banter. Both Dave Thomas (he was like that guy in that TV show about that working class woman who had kids) and Rock Moranis (he was like that guy in that movie about those ghosts and those guy who caught them) have their characters down to a science and know every nuance and tick needed to make them likable. And hey, any movie that starts with the MGM lion logo burpin' up suds can't be all bad, can it?
I also liked the fact that these hosers were able to get imposing character actor Max Von Sydow in their movie. Don't you think that guys got the scariest haircut and choppers this side of The Exorcist, eh? Paul Dooley (that guy from that movie about sixteen candles with that Molly Ringwald girl) is also pretty funny as that Von Sydow guy's right hand lackey. Uh, there's like this really funny scene where that Von Sydow guy lifts up that Dooley guy and then he starts talkin' to him really mean and…well, I'm not too good at explainin' scenes and all, eh. You should probably just see the movie.
Okay, so Strange Brew ain't a perfect movie or nothin', ya know? Not every joke and gag is funny 'cause, let's face it, this was made in 1983 and some of the humor is like a little dated and stuff. However, the goof stuff outweighs the bad because the fact is that I laughed a whole lot while watchin' this movie. The story is pretty silly and outrageous—I mean, who would actually try and take over the world using beer? Maybe light, but definitely not regular beer! Well, I mean except for that Von Sydow guy and his bad haircut and choppers. Then again, I guess if you're going to see this movie for a sharp character arc or intricate plotline you're just one big tool and deserve to be disappointed, eh? Fans who like this movie will want to hork this DVD from a retailer's shelf as soon as possible. Not that I like encourage stealing, but let's face it—everything seems a lot cheaper in the U.S. Have you seen our Canadian book prices?
Strange Brew is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and she's a looker! I was surprised at how nice this transfer looked considering its age and budget. I was expecting this to be a fairly shoddy transfer and was pleasantly surprised at the crispness of the image. While there are a few inherent flaws to be found in the image (including a small amount of grain and a tad bit of wear in the colors), overall this is a more-than-passable transfer which should please fans of the film.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital stereo surround in both English and French. While the video transfer was a pleasant surprise, this sound mix was generally what I was expecting—rather flat and uninteresting. Dynamic range and fidelity are only slightly present with most all of the soundstage filtering through the front and center speakers only. This soundtrack won't bowl over your surround sound system, though it's clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French (woo-hoo!), and Spanish subtitles.
Warner really missed the boat on this one in the way of extra features. It would have been a blast to have listened to a commentary track by Thomas and Moranis (and even better if they'd have done it in character). Unfortunately, there are no commentaries, behind-the-scenes retrospectives, or deleted scenes on this edition of Strange Brew. What fans do get is an all-new world premiere short titled "The Animated Adventures of Doug and Bob McKenzie." This is apparently a sneak peek at a new cartoon in the works ala The Simpsons. From the looks of this short the show has promise, though it's a little too soon to tell. A classic McKenzie brothers sketch from SCTV titled "How to Stuff a Mouse in a Beer Bottle" is included, though the fact is that this gag is also featured in the movie and is far more polished and funny there.
Finally there are a few cast film highlights and a theatrical trailer for the film. Also included is an easy to find Easter egg dictionary of Canadian slang ("eh," "hork," and other fun examples are featured).
At the low price of around 15 bucks, this disc is a worthy edition to any beer/hockey/Michael J. Fox/Ontario/DVD fan's collection. While Strange Brew may not be a cinematic milestone, ya gotta admit—it's one funny flick. And if you don't think so, well you can just take off, ya hoser!
Strange Brew is, like, free to go! And remember: no horking it from Best Buy!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• "The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie" Short
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