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OnTV Today's Date:

Strange Brew
Rating: PG
Release Date: October 1, 2002
Running Time: approximately 91 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are drunken idiots.

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • world premiere short The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie
  • SCTV McKenzie Brothers sketch: "How To Stuff a Mouse in a Beer Bottle"
  • limited cast and crew information

    Choice Scene: Paul Dooley's strained courtroom testimony: "Just because I don't know what it is doesn't mean I'm lying," a defense used most notably in the recent Microsoft anti-trust case.

    Tech Specs: Wide Screen (1.85:1), English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0 (they're Canadian, eh), English, French and Spanish subtitles

    Welcome to our DVD review, eh? Today we're going to be talking about a movie that is definitely $19.98 worth of enjoyment for me and my entire family. In a year of great DVD releases, what you really need is one that features fleshy-headed mutants, plenty of back bacon, and beer. And if you don't like it, take off, eh?

    Yes, last month Warner Home Video quietly slipped a cult classic onto the marketplace. Fans had been asking and waiting for this one since the days that some of us worked for the late Daily Radar. Wait no more, because now we have Strange Brew is available on DVD, still as hilariously (and intentionally) stupid as ever.

    Originally created on SCTV to satisfy a Canadian broadcasting bylaw, Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) were never meant to be successful. Rather, Moranis and Thomas would just climb onto their "Great White North" set and improvise on some topic (usually beer) for the minimum two minutes of "purely Canadian content" that the government demanded. A throwaway bit, the McKenzie Brothers ended up being the only SCTV idea to make it successfully to the big screen.

    A few comedy geeks will be able to cite other sketches from SCTV, and certainly many of the actors on that show are still around. But most people remember the show for the McKenzies, and no other SCTV characters can claim an album (featuring the hit single "Take Off," with vocals by Rush' Geddy Lee), a movie, and action figures. (Really inaction figures, as all they do is sit drinking beer and eating donuts.) In a strange way, The McKenzie Brothers are even bigger than any SNL spin-offs, as their popularity keeps surging back.

    The DVD package reflects this. In addition to a decent transfer of the film, Warner has included snippets from different stages of the McKenzies' development.

    From the SCTV archives, the disc features "How To Stuff A Mouse Into A Beer Bottle," a pivotal sketch that features exactly what the title implies. The dimwitted brothers believe that this trick will allow them to get free beer, and this theory gets the plot rolling in Strange Brew.

    That is, once the plot does get rolling. Like the brothers themselves, Strange Brew just sort of ambles and gets distracted a lot. Almost a movie next to a movie, it begins with the duo introducing their home movie, a mish-mashed Super 8 sci-fi film. Though the studio had given them money to make it, they blew it all on beer.

    The movie shifts to a theater where a disgruntled audience walks out, and after the brothers flee, nobody ever mentions that they're well-known public figures again. Instead, they're revealed to be the pathetic losers we'd expect, and in their quest for free beer end up working at Elsinore Brewery. While there they end up saving the world from the evil mind-controlling scheme of Brewmeister Smith (Max Von Sydow).

    If the name "Elsinore Brewery" rings a bell, yes, this movie is actually a completely screwed-up adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet." And if that doesn't tip you off that there's a lot of incredible smarts going on behind the stupidity, nothing will. Trust us; good stupid comedy has to have brains.

    Blissfully free of commentary (would we really need to know?), the disc offers a few production bios and a glossary of Canadian terms. Real fans don't need it, but newcomers might. Of real note is a "preview" of an animated series.

    Likely intended for the internet, The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie recreates a lot of their knucklehead charm. The preview establishes a new supporting cast of characters, many voiced by Mr. Show alumni. Produced by Thomas' own Animax Productions, fans can only hope this project gets picked up somewhere, and doesn't falter like the previous unproduced McKenzie project, Home Brew. (Unless Warner sees this DVD's popularity soar and wants to revive that one…hint, hint?)

    You will notice that Strange Brew started life as an MGM film, and that studio's logo is crucial to the opening credits. A lot of MGM's library was sold off in the '80's and ended up with Warner after Ted Turner sold out to them. Whatever the protocol in such cases may be, the distributor kindly left the original studio opener and closer intact.

    Take our advice and pick up this DVD. It's beauty, eh? We'll see you hosers later.

    Strange Brew at Amazon.com

    Derek McCaw


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