‘Weekend at Bernie’s II’ — Different Than We Remember
If you haven’t revisited ‘Weekend at Bernie’s II’ as an adult, cancel your plans and rent this movie tonight. Trust me.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and I believe them now; ten-year-old me didn’t notice how utterly psychotic this sequel is. What’s that? You’ve never seen the original 1989 classic, ‘Weekend at Bernies?’ Allow me to summarize:
Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) are young, entry-level employees at a NY insurance firm who discover that someone has been stealing money from the company, and report it to their boss, Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser). Surprise: Bernie was the one stealing the money!
In a very typical and realistic scenario, Mr. Lomax invites the two company stooges to his summer house to “hang out with him,” which is code for murder them. However! Before he has the chance to off them via a hitman, he dies of a drug overdose in his fabulous vacation home. When Richard and Larry discover that the hitman’s signal to murder them was when Bernie leaves his house, they decide to — instead of calling for help or you know, leaving — prop Bernie’s carcass up and pretend that he’s alive, while they continue hanging out in the Caribbean.
‘Weekend at Bernies II’ (hereafter WAB2, though I would like to note how classy those roman numerals are) was released in 1993, which is mind-boggling, because it means that they had four years to re-think this, and still decided it was a good idea. This was not, apparently, a rush job. The trailer’s narration begins with: “America’s favorite corpse is back; but this time, he has a job to do!” That’s how you know it’s going to be good:
On a whim, I re-watched WAB2 last weekend, and I came away from it with some big, big questions:
1. When and why did movies stop having animated intro credits? This thing is three minutes long and I was riveted the entire time:
2. Were the 90s a lot more emotionally disturbing than I rememeber? One of the most horrifying things about WAB2 is everyone’s complete lack of emotional response regarding the decaying dead body who is the star of this movie. Over the course of this movie, Bernie’s body is dragged by a car, stuffed inside of a small suitcase, left on a train, stuffed inside of a mini-fridge (because “he smells bad”), bitten by a leaping shark while accidentally parasailing:
Later, he is sexually violated by a woman who liked his “dance moves.” Oh sorry, did I forget to mention that part? The part about how he can dance, after being raised from the dead by two wildly-offensive black stereotype characters, who are working for a wildly-offensive caribbean stereotype voodoo woman in St. Thomas, who has threatened to turn the other stereotype characters into goats unless they bring Bernie back with them so that they can find his money? Which makes me wonder…
3.When exactly did movies stop being racist? I really assumed it was less…recent. Our two stereotype characters carry around a huge boombox with them, and it takes them three rounds of turning the music on and off to realize that Bernie can only “dance” while the music is playing. This is unfortunate for Bernie’s corpse, because it means he ends up slamming into the floor with his dead face several times, when the music is shut off. In the bathroom. Where they are raising him from the dead. For some reason.
3. Is Andrew McCarthy’s character supposed to be mentally challenged? He spend a lot of the movie struggling to speak, hiding behind things when someone asks him a question, and screaming without warning.
4. HOW MUCH MONEY WAS SPENT ON THIS FILM? There is an UNDERWATER SCENE:
Subquestion: Why does the submarine tour guide in St. Thomas have a midwestern accent? Sub-Sub question: Why is the creepy-haired evil business man who is supposed to be hunting for Bernie taking leisurely submarine tours? Stay on task!
5. Does anyone have a time machine I can borrow, so that I can return to the time in history where it was standard business to make a corpse the main character of a movie, and for the climax of the movie to be a wild getaway scene in a horse-drawn carriage that is being pulled by the dancing zombie corpse of your boss, who has an arrow through his head? If this movie were made today, everyone in the credits would be in prison.