Movie Review from the Past: Weekend at Bernie’s

Recently, my boyfriend and I decided to rent a movie to watch while we drank beers.  After perusing “Get Reel” video down the street for what felt like hours, I picked up the slim, plastic case that housed “Weekend at Bernie’s”. I know you’ve all seen it before but you know what? I hadn’t.  Turns out my boyfriend hadn’t seen it either so we headed home, popped in the DVD and proceeded to watch some of the most embarrassingly bad, retardedly cobbled together 97 minutes of comedy in history.  Now I know everyone thinks this is a classic but…..why?

For the few of you who haven’t seen it I’m sure you’re aware of the finer points of the plot. Homeboy from  Pretty in Pink and that guy from that show The Single Guy that ran on NBC for about 2 weeks play two New York City dwelling low-level, overworked and underpaid employees at an insurance company. After discovering a major hole in the company’s bookkeeping revealing some missing cash,the two geniuses bring it to the attention of their wealthy tycoon boss Bernie. So thankful is he for their intervention, that he invites them to join him at his beach house for the weekend! Score!  The next thing you know, the two bros are aboard the ferry, drinking beers and dancing on their way out to fictional “Hampton Island”.

Good weather, good brews, good friends, the prospect of making big money in the future; everything’s great, right? Wrong!

Shitstorm Alert!: Two weasely mob-type gentleman with startlingly greasy hair have beaten our valiant heroes to Bernie’s place.  See, Bernie was involved in some kinda shady insurance fraud business with the Mob.  And, you guessed it, it’s the very shady business that PIP and TSG uncovered back in the city! We then find out through the most amateurish, poorly written dialogue EVER, that that’s why Bernie invited them out to his house in the first place–to rub ‘em out!!

But snap! Unfortunately for Bernie, he gets rubbed out first.   He’ s stabbed in the back  in what might be the most anticlimactic, awkwardly-blocked murder scene that has ever been committed to film.  This gangster sneaks up on the B-man while he’s on the phone in his hideous, mauve and beige, tiled heavily-late-80′s-design-styled nightmare of a beach house and it’s bye bye Bernie!

Before there’s even time to gasp the totally-inconspicuous-in a-beach town-leather-sporting mobster hightails it outta there.  And of course, only minutes later who should show up but Pretty in Pink and the Single Guy. It being the greed decade, we of course have to allow enough time for our two heroes to spend a moment drooling  over Bernie’s pad. Immediately of course they have a brief  encounter with an overly tanned teenager named Tawny who comes over to borrow the keys to Bernie’s boat dressed casually in a thong bikini , tube socks and sneakers.  After diffusing their erections and marveling over the awesome weekend they are about to have, the two buddies saunter over to where Bernie is slumped in his chair, have a ten minute long one-sided conversation, and then, only after noticing the pool of blood do they realize that dude is dead.

It actually gets stupider from here.

Terrified of being accused of killing Bernie,  the two desperately and with remarkable efficacy, try to convince the other residents of Hampton Island that Bernie is alive and well.

“Why not call the police?” you ask. “Wouldn’t it be prudent, and possibly lucrative to report the murder of your own boss?”

Well, professor, don’t go serachin’ for logic here–we’re fresh out! What matters, what you need to come away with from this movie is the following aphorism. Commit this to memory, because there is no telling what sorts of situations may arise in your own life, and you may need to be prepared:

As long as someone is wearing sunglasses, it is impossible to tell whether they are dead or alive.

Rigor mortis, the smell of rotting flesh, the cold clammy sensations of a corpse are no match for the casually-livin’-it-up “Party Guy” vibe that sunglasses give off.   When the mincing septuagenarian homosexuals who’ve come over uninvited for an impromptu beach party at your glass-walled house find you slumped over, motionless on your couch while dozens of revelers dance, drink and carouse all around you, they’ll take one look at your sunglasses and know you’re only taking a brief nap. When your big, fat, cowboy-alpha-male buddy who is oddly, at the very same party tries to talk you into selling your Ferrari, the sunglasses you wear will communicate that though your mouth is hanging open and your head is dangling awkwardly atop your rapidly stiffening trunk, your silence means only that you drive a hard bargain and will not be taken for  fool.

With your sunglasses on,  no one will suspect that the reason you are “waterskiing” with all of your clothes on and flopping around flat on your face while two relative strangers wildly commandeer your boat is BECAUSE YOU’RE DEAD, rather they will chalk it up to you being “such a kidder!” A personality trait that is, of course, utterly unearned and has never previously been demonstrated.

But, all kidding aside, perhaps the finest achievement that sunglasses can boast is the ability to give your muddled-Queen’s-accent-having ladyfriend the greatest sexual experience of her life despite the notable handicap of BEING DEAD.  Can sunglasses really supply a slowly rotting corpse with this type of virility?  Or did rigor mortis just set in at a particularly convenient time for Bernie’s mistress?

I don’t know much disbelief you can suspend, kids, but by the 40 minute mark I was ready for the “he’s-dead-but-they-think-he’s-not-dead!” charade to give way to the rest of the plot.

Spoiler alert: There IS no rest of the plot!!!

Sure there’s some stuff with a “foxy”  intern and these other bad mob guys who want PIP and TSG dead, but the movie pretty much coasts on the corpse-doing-wacky-antics bullshit until they abruptly wrap the whole thing up and play some forgotten 80′s Calypso track over the closing credits.

At least  I now understand the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine, forced to rent an inferior “Gene’s Pick” from the video store, watches Weekend At Bernie’s with growing disdain, finally hurling her remote at the television and shouting “He’s dead, you idiots!”

At one point I suggested to my boyfriend that perhaps these sunglasses not only blocked UVB rays, but had a special “corpse-reanimating” feature.  Well it looks like the creative geniuses over at Sony Pictures thought of that too, cause the sequel to this cinematic gem, the inventively named Weekend at Bernie’s II is about a voodoo priestess bringing Bernie back from the dead so he can lead a couple bad guys to some buried treasure. Or something. Can’t wait to rent it!

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About the author

Ashley Friedman - Cornerstore Correspondent

Like most kids, Ashley grew up in New Jersey. Unlike most kids the Friedman's televison set acted as a third parent, imbuing young Ashley with the stern moral values of Claire Huxtable, the dramatic tendencies of Brenda Walsh and the earnest hopefulness of the blond kid on Silver Spoons. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence Ashley made her way to the Park Slope area of Brooklyn where she can currently be found reading foreign fashion magazines, scouring ebay for vintage heels, eating out in restaurants and otherwise stretching her meager income as far as it will go in NYC.