DirectorDave Thomas and Rick Moranis
Release Date(s)1983 (March 1, 2016)
Studio(s)MGM/United Artists (Warner Home Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C
The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie, otherwise known as Strange Brew, was released in 1983 and was based on, of all things, Shakespeare’s story of “Hamlet”. When the McKenzie brothers drive up to the Elsinore beer factory and try to score themselves some free beer by claiming that they found a mouse in one of their beer bottles, they stumble upon a sinister plot of murder, madness, and mind control. Soon, they find themselves caught up in the plot, all the while wanting nothing more than to sit back with a cold one in one hand and a donut in the other.
The characters of Bob and Doug McKenzie first originated on SCTV, and quickly became one of the favorite sets of characters on that show with their Canadian sensibilities involving beer, back bacon, hockey, and donuts. They became so popular that they were able to do a comedy album, which in turn led them to do a movie. Based on the character’s popularity, the movie, when released, managed to do a little over half of its budget, which wasn’t very much. The movie’s gone on to have a bit of a cult life and Bob and Doug McKenzie live on in popular culture.
What I love about Strange Brew is just how weird and silly it gets at times. While you’re enjoying some silly one-liners, they manage to throw in things like flying dogs, breathing under water with the use of beer bottles, and drinking a vat of beer to keep from drowning. Yet, however absurd things get, you can always manage to follow what’s going on with very little effort. It’s probably why Max Von Sydow was cast in the first place (that and his obvious allusion to “Hamlet”), which is to anchor the plot while everything else goes a little out of control. It’s never overly serious either. Some might call it a bit on the soft side in either direction, but what holds the movie together is Rick Moranis’ and Dave Thomas’ chemistry and their constant back-and-forth with each other. It may not make you laugh out loud constantly, but you always have a smile on your face.
Both Moranis and Thomas would go on to do other things in the movie business, but their lone McKenzie movie outing has apparently been their last. There was an attempt in the early 2000’s to do an animated version of their exploits, but it never came to fruition. Even so, their SCTV sketches, their album, and Strange Brew still offer plenty of enjoyment. I love the movie, as I do most SCTV and SNL related comedies from the 1980’s. It’s a comfort food kind of movie, the kind where you can pop it in at any time and just enjoy it without any real effort. Quite simply, it’s just a fun movie.
Strange Brew is presented in 3B: three beers and it looks good, eh? The transfer found on Warner Bros.’ newly-printed Blu-ray is an excellent one, and probably the best the movie could look on the format. There’s a thick layer of grain that I only found intrusive during the underwater scenes, but it’s very even from scene to scene with a great amount of fine detail on display. Colors and skin tones are accurate and strong, while black levels have some nice depth to them. Both contrast and brightness levels are very satisfactory as well. This is also a very clean print with little to no dirt or debris left behind, and no signs of heavy-handed digital sharpening or clean-up either. For the audio, there are options to choose from: English 2.0 DTS-HD and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital. The English track is likely sourced from the original mono, but that being said, it’s still a very clean track. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, sound effects have some decent weight to them, and both the score and the songs used in the movie have some nice punch. There’s some decent ambience and spatial activity as well, but not much in the way of LFE. There are also subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish for those who might need them. And if you own the previous DVD release, the three extras selections have been carried over too. Unfortunately, nothing new has been added. There’s The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie proof-of-concept trailer, the How to Stuff a Mouse in a Beer Bottle sketch from SCTV, and the movie’s original theatrical trailer.
Overall, Strange Brew is my kind of movie, eh? I thought there were a couple of minor story flaws, but all in all, it was a good five bucks worth for me and my whole family... and now I’m just quoting the movie. Basically, if you’re into absurd comedies with lovable characters, you’ll dig on Bob and Doug’s one and only outing. And this Blu-ray release definitely won’t be seated for two minutes for elbowing... ok, I’ll stop.
- Tim Salmons