One would think that to merit a sequel, a film would have to have an absorbing story line, multifaceted characters about whom you would like to know more, or, at the very least, a message that benefits from repetition. As proven by the vile Weekend at Bernie’s (1989, LIVE, PG-13, $14.98) and the even more despicable Weekend at Bernie’s 2 (1993,Columbia TriStar:PG, $95.95),one would be wrong.
It’s a mighty low class of people that you meet in these movies—and a mighty low grade of humor, if you want the honest truth. The first movie’s premise, thin as it may be, is this: Two young corporate climbers (Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman) uncover a $2 million embezzlement scam at their firm. For their efforts, their boss, Bernie (Terry Kiser), a fairly conventional idiot, invites them to a party at his beach retreat, where the boys find him dead. Heaven forbid a death should cut short their big weekend—it’s obvious these losers don’t get out much—so they pretend he’s still alive by propping him up, manipulating him like a marionette…you get the picture. Because sparkling conversation was probably never part of Bernie’s repertoire to begin with, no one notices he’s dead.
As unbearable as it seems—and trust us, you could expire waiting for these movies to end—Weekend at Bernie’s 2 continues the story as the pair kidnap Bernie from the morgue and take him to the Virgin Islands to withdraw his money from a secret bank account. Enough!
Besides stretching credulity—not to mention bad taste—to a degree rarely reached in major moviemaking, the creators of these films should be reprimanded for not doing their homework. Although most moviegoers have not experienced Bernie’s physical state and won’t recognize many of the films glaring errors, this reviewer is in the unique, if unenviable, position of being able to set the record straight.
A corpse simply cannot manage the myriad positions into which Bernie is bent, twisted and contorted. This reviewer has endeavored to test them, although rigor mortis is an indisputable process that stiffens one’s muscles after death. Thus, it is absurd for a masseuse in which film tk to tell Bernie that his neck has never felt so loose.
Also, it would be physically impossible for Bernie to get up and dance—despite a voodoo spell cast on him—or even appear to walk, as he does in the second film. Not for nothing is ”rest in peace” a common expression; after death, one does not have the musculature to run all over the place, even when supported upright by others. (Corpses are heavy. Note the phrase ”dead weight.”) This review is being dictated rather than written because dexterity—manual or pedestrian—is simply no longer in the cards.
Let us hope that we have seen the last of Bernie. If this is the direction filmmaking is headed, this reviewer, for one, is glad to be in another world. Weekend at Bernie’s: D- Weekend at Bernie’s 2: F
Bosley Crowther, longtime film critic for The New York Times, died in 1981. This review was written through Manhattan-based psychic channeler Laura Steele.