Hey, You Hosers, ‘Strange Brew’ Is A Beauty, Eh?

Before there was Wayne and Garth of Wayne’s World, there was Doug and Bob McKenzie. The comedic duo were the work of Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis and became popular on SCTV. They were just two brothers from The Great White North, i.e. Canada, who loved beer, back bacon and doughnuts. They were parodies of Canadian stereotypes who called people they didn’t like “hosers” and everything they did like was a “beauty.”

And they said “eh?” a lot.

Granted, most Canadians don’t look or sound like Doug and Bob but people especially from America are under the impression that Canadians are kind, simple and non-combative. After the success of their 1981 comedy album The Great White North, they began trying to make a movie after fellow SCTV cast member was cast in Going Berserk. They worked with Steve Da Jarnett to develop a script and got a deal through MGM for a movie with Moranis and Thomas directing.

It’s a strange movie that blends early metafiction with supernatural qualities as well as action sequences. When the movie opens inside a movie with Doug and Bob showing a cheaply produced movie that angers an audience where Doug and Bog are sitting in the theater watching. As they try to leave the movie theater, a father guilts them into refunding the money because his kids saved up their money are not happy. Bob gives them a twenty but they find themselves hounded by other angry partons until they sneak away and head home.

With their father (Thomas with a grey wig but sounding like Yosemite Sam because it’s Mel Blanc) angry at them for not saving any beers for him, he tells them to go get another case the first thing the next day with the money he gave them. It’s the same money Bob gave to the upset parent. So, Doug tries a trick where he claims he found a mouse in a bottle and they should be getting free beer. Yet, the beer store proprietor isn’t having it and says they have to go to Elsinore Brewery.

At the brewery, they come upon a young woman, Pam Elsinore (Lynne Griffin) trapped in her small car that’s hedged between the malfunctioning electric gates. In their van, they slightly ram her through the gate and then go on their way trying to find who to talk to about the beer. When bribing a secretary with doughnuts, they discover that the founder and previous owner John Elsinore (Eric House) died mysteriously and his brother, Claude (Paul Dooley), has taken over management as well as marrying John’s widow.

Now, if you’re thinking something is fishy here, well, you probably have read Hamlet in high school as the plot is loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s famous play. Claude is trying to buy off Pam for control of the brewery and their meeting is interrupted when Doug and Bob come in inquiring about the mouse in the bottle. The brewery has become mostly automated with the exception of Jean LaRose (Angus MacInnes), a former professional hockey player, and Henry Green (Douglas Campbell), a long-time employee and supervisor. Pam decides to put Doug and Bob on the line to watch for bottles moving through the line to make sure nothing is in them.

With a job and all the beer they can drink, their parents are excited. But on the next day, they discover something is going on. Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow) is changing the substances in the beer that affects people’s minds and makes them more docile. With LaRose, Smith and his assistant, Ted (Brian McConnachie) are using patients from the nearby Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane as test subjects in a makeshift hockey ring inside the brewery. It’s a strange plot indeed.

We find out that Smith and Claude worked together to kill John to make it look like he got electrocuted at the gated entrance. Pam fires Smith but not before seeing the doctored image showing Claude and Smith setting it up. Little does she know Smith has a plan to get rid of Pam and the bumbling Doug and Bob. However, it doesn’t all go correctly.

It never does, but to tell anymore would be to ruin the fun of this movie. Doug and Bob are more lighter in their tone than Cheech and Chong, even though they do some stupid and raunchy things. The movie is rated PG but I’m sure it would’ve received a PG-13 rating as it hadn’t been invented in 1983. Doug and Bob are such loveable lunkheads that even the stupid things they do are hilarious. There’s one scene of them actually having fun with electric shock therapy at the mental institute. And there’s another scene involving Bob in a vat of beer that has a hilarious result.

While most of the battles to take down Smith are completed by LeRose or “Rosy” as he is called, Thomas and Moranis are smart enough not to make Doug and Bob too different from what they have been. They almost seem to be completely unaware of the things going on, which adds something to their charm. And Thomas and Moranis have a great chemistry together that it’s almost a shame Moranis has been retired from acting since the 1990s with only sporadic voice-acting roles. In 1984, Moranis would appear in the blockbuster Ghostbusters and became an A-list celebrity appearing in the 1989 sequel as well as Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs and Parenthood before walking away from movie roles following the death of his wife.

The movie ends with a incident at Oktoberfest in which Police Academy fans will notice the exteriors were also used in those movies. It’s a nice mixture of comedy, supernatural ghosts as we learn the spirit of John Elsinore is seen, and action-adventure. Made for only $4 million, it ended up making $8.5 million which isn’t much. Maybe the mixture of comedy, murder mystery and supernatural elements weren’t easy for audiences to comprehend. It’s now consider a comedy classic. A sequel was planned to begin filming in 1999 with Dan Aykroyd joining the cast but financing fell through.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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