Weekend at Bernie's 2

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 08/16/03 16:17:06

"The thesaurus doesn't offer enough synonyms for 'awful' to cover this one."
1 stars (Total Crap)

Just like there are varying degrees of bowel cancer, there are many different levels of bad filmmaking. There's your normal-bad: filmmakers try their hardest and still end up with a dungheap. There's hardcore-bad: movies that have you slapping your forehead in disbelief that such an atrocious film could ever be constructed...and then there's Fuck You-bad: the 7,000th level of ridiculously poor filmmaking that reeks of laziness, stupidity and an unsettling lack of talent. Oh, and then there's "Weekend at Bernie's 2".

Way back in ancient times (1989) a little flick popped onto the screens, netted over $30 million in receipts, and promptly vanished. Everyone on the planet forgot that they ever saw it. That flick centered around a corpse and the two retarded buffoons who saw fit to play with the corpse. That film was called Weekend at Bernie's, and it's now a feature that plays on an eternal loop in one of Hell's more unpleasant caverns.

Since Weekend at Bernie's turned a profit of about 84 times what it must have cost to produce, someone got the smart idea to offer the planet a sequel. Surely there was more comedy gold to plumb in the "corpse as toy" sub-genre of American comedy. That someone was Robert Klane, screenwriter of the original torture device and proud director of the second chapter.

Now, before I go any further in my attempts to explain what a "Weekend at Bernie's 2" is, it's important for me to explain what a "Robert Klane" is:

In 1978, The Klane directed what is arguably the worst film in the history of mankind to win an Academy Award. (It wasn't for Best Director.) That film was called Thank God it's Friday, a film so biblically awful that it effectively destroyed an entire style of music. (Disco had it coming, as it was a musical style that was also created by a movie.) Following his cringe-worthy debut, Klane then penned a rejected screenplay entitled Greasier. (Three guesses what that one was meant to follow up.)

The Klane had just gotten started. Despite penning a novel in 1970 that launched a rather popular cult film entitled Where's Poppa?, there seemed to be no semblance of talent hidden anywhere in his body. After some work on sitcoms and a few movies that literally nobody's ever heard of, Klane wrote (see: stole) scripts for a Preston Sturges remake (Unfaithfully Yours) and a Frenchie remake (The Man with One Red Shoe). He then wrote parts of the generally awful European Vacation and the mind-bendingly pathetic Howie Mandel abortion Walk Like a Man.

All of this career experience so that The Klane could come up with the "two idiots and a corpse" conceit that would earn him a healthy Weekend at Bernie's paycheck. Call it Succeeding through Consistent Awfulness.

Though the original entry is a terrible movie with a few well-timed moments of slapstick (courtesy of veteran director Ted Kotcheff), the sequel resembles nothing more than a moviegoer's most horrifying primal nightmare. One where you poop the bed.

Premise of Weekend at Bernie's: two chummy morons must convince an island full of partiers that their previously living employer is now not dead. WHY they must do this is not important; rest assured it was something pithy and clever. The flick earned sparse chuckles through sheer force of will and a few well-timed shots of Terry ("The Corpse") Kiser falling flat on his dead face. Hoo hoo he he.

Premise of Weekend at Bernie's 2: the same two morons, instead of finding better Hollywood agents, steal Bernie's corpse from the morgue so they can access his Caribbean bank account. Once on the island Bernie's body is cursed by some greedy voodoo thugs, thereby allowing the dead man to dance and shuffle around in place whenever Calypso music is playing.

It's at this point that I'll insist that I'm not making any of this up. Keep that in mind the next time your deeply personal and heartfelt screenplay is thrown into some producer's garbage bin.

Even in an era lousy with wholly unwanted sequels (Short Circuit 2, Mannequin 2, Police Academys 2 through 18) Weekend at Bernie's 2 represents the absolute nadir of American Comedy filmmaking. Created due to the sole fact that the original suckpile made some coin and created with a sense of bored indifference that's visible in every successive scene, Weekend at Bernie's 2 is a very telling creation: you reap what you sow, moviegoers. By giving Part 1 way more attention than it deserved, you gave The Klane free rein to earn a paid tropical vacation while lensing what's clearly one of the worst films I (or indeed anyone) has ever seen.

That the likable-yet-astronomically vapid duo of Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy were able to tear themselves away from whatever sitcom pilots they were working on simply boggles the mind. Surely there's no more efficient form of career suicide than to star in two successive movies in which you're forced to play straight man to a Calypso-dancing dead guy.

Weekend at Bernie's 2 is not only witless and unwatchable; it is a gaping black hole of comedy. Frankly I'm stunned that every American who paid to see it didn't file a class action suit against the now-sorta-defunct Tri-Star Pictures for their blatant misrepresentation of the word "comedy".

Low-brow slapstick is one thing; slamming a dead body into a palm tree in between ham-fisted necrophilia references is another thing entirely. Part 2 makes Part 1 look like Citizen Kane - despite the fact that they're both as bad as bad can get.

Other than a pair of TV movies, The Klane has yet to work in Hollywood again. I suppose I should feel grateful to "Weekend at Bernie's 2" for banishing this guy from the ranks of Hollywood's Laughmeisters Elite. But as long as there's some faceless 13-year-old out there surfing through the basic cable channels looking for something stupid to watch, I'll be there. Screaming as loud as my throat will allow without bleeding: For the sake of all things holy and decent, please don't ever watch this film. You could live to be a thousand and you'll still rue the 85 minutes you spent having this turgid shit-heap interact with your brain.

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