In hindsight, I am very glad I was late to the Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) party. Actually, I am now regretting having arrived at all. After plowing my way through Trolls World Tour, I looked ahead at my list with some relief, thinking the worst was behind me. Weekend at Bernie’s? I had never seen it, but I remember people really getting a kick out of it. Yes, it is a film about two dudes hanging out with a corpse, but the previews seemed funny. And when I sat down to watch it, after a few moments I recognized Catherine Mary Stewart as the (obvious) love interest and female lead, Gwen Saunders. Pretty cool, I felt, seeing an actress from one of my favorite cult classics, The Last Starfighter (1984). But then there was the rest of the movie. . . .
In Weekend at Bernie’s, two schmucks, Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) work for a life insurance company. They are working weekends trying to get ahead in their corporate world when they (now that I have seen the film) miraculously stumble upon what seems to be a $2 million accounting error. Believing they have made a breakthrough, they determine to bring this up to their boss, Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), on the following Monday. When they do, Bernie feigns disbelief and encourages Richard and Larry that they will be rewarded for their efforts, even inviting them to come to his house in the Hamptons. In reality, Bernie is embezzling the money from the company, but Richard and Larry are too (charity test: try to think of a different word here for people like these two who fail to notice the obvious) to realize what is actually happening. Instead, they conclude that things are looking up for them, and Richard even plucks up the courage to ask Gwen out on a date. Meanwhile, Bernie decides that his two employees know too much and meets with the mobster, Vito (Louis Giambalvo), he is apparently in league with to ask the crime boss to “dispose” of Richard and Larry. Vito agrees to the deal to his face, but he sends instead Paulie (Don Calfa), Vito’s hitman, to murder Bernie. Apparently Bernie had been having an affair with Vito’s girlfriend, Tina (Catherine Parks). This deed is done moments before Richard and Larry arrive at Bernie’s mansion, where they find their boss deceased. Instead of doing the sensible thing and calling the police, the pair get carried away by a party that suddenly erupts at the house, one which Gwen happens to be at as well. No one at the party seems to notice that Bernie is dead, despite the fact that his cadaver is right there for everyone to see. What follows from there are a series of set-pieces as Richard and Larry ignore the blindingly obvious thing they should do in favor of muddling through a weekend with a corpse. For some reason they think that letting people know Bernie has expired will draw the attention of the killer, and thus they go about articulating a dead body in a variety of positions to make it look alive. Eventually, when Paulie does show up, that is when they finally call the police and everything is resolved. In the process, we are treated to such “hilarity” for two hours.
I guess if Richard and Larry had done what I practically shouted every fifteen minutes at the television, there would have been no Weekend at Bernie’s. I would actually be perfectly fine with such a world. A fitting symbol of my pain came when these two “wacky” guys attempt to take Bernie’s boat, with dead-Bernie tied to the backseat, back to New York City. When Bernie inevitably slips off the back of the boat and is dragged into metal buoy after metal buoy, I was pounding my head on the table in front of me, wanting the “hilarity” to just stop. I pled with God, but I stuck it out. Actually, rehashing all the ridiculous scenarios they get Bernie into is not really worth too much comment. The worst aspect of the movie is the relationship between Richard and Gwen. On their first date, Richard lies and lies and lies to Gwen about his finances, his family, and his apartment, all of which is revealed when Jack Parker (Ted Kotcheff), Richard’s dad, comes out in his underwear into the living room where Richard and Gwen are making out. Despite this awkward scene, when they next see each other at Bernie’s, Richard carries on lying to her. And yet she still keeps coming back for more? This is not just a Biblical thing, but how can that be the basis for a healthy relationship? I want to say charitable, Christian things about the characters and this movie, but everyone behaves in the most dishonorable way possible. I can only imagine what Tobit would say about Richard and Larry’s actions.
The less said about Weekend at Bernie’s, the better, although I will be watching the sequel tonight. Yay. I cannot wait for more corpse-related humor. Truly, who thought this was a good idea for a movie? It is supposed to be a comedy, but let us examine the elements: it features lying, sloth, and theft, and these just from the protagonists. We are also “treated” to embezzlement, drug use, and necrophilia. To sum it all up: avoid.