Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Dead body causes problems.

Larry and Richard (Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman) are two young executives that find an accounting error that could save the company two million dollars. They show their arrogant boss Bernie (Terry Kiser) the findings. He decides to reward them with a weekend at his beach house on the Hampton Island. However, unbeknownst to them Bernie also has mob connections and the mob decides to off him just as they get there. Antics ensue as the two young men must pretend that their dead boss is still alive.

It sounds rather mindless and I braced myself for the worst yet, at least at the beginning, it is surprisingly tolerable. The two leads are likable and have distinctive personalities. They mesh well and even have a few good exchanges. The pacing is decent and without the usual 80’s sloppiness or crudeness. It even culminates with a party that nicely satirizes the trendy, affluent set.

However, it collapses after this. The second half becomes stretched and one-dimensional and the action gets silly and cartoonish. There is a potential at making it slapstick, but like in the boat scene, it is not extended out enough. It seems almost amazing that such a simple and routine comedy could have been written by Robert Klane the same man who wrote Where’s Poppa?, which was so original and groundbreaking.

Silverman was a good choice for the lead. He has the perfect composure and attitude for frantic comedy. McCarthy gives his part a lot of energy, but his face looks like it never reached puberty. Recycled supporting player Terry Kiser is fun as the arrogant boss, but having him become such a patsy to the mob seems disjointed. His best work actually comes when he is playing dead. Trying to remain motionless and unresponsive to everything happening around you is much harder than you think. It’s also fun to see a cameo by talented director Ted Kotcheff half- naked in his underwear playing Silverman’s dad.

If you are looking for fluffy, undemanding comedy then this should do the trick. However, others will find it vapid and lacking in any type of depth, or distinction.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: July 5, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Ted Kotcheff

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

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