Weekend at Bernie’s II: High-Concept Comedy About Death

Weekend at Bernie's II
Indeed.

Here’s a 1993 black comedy we enjoyed as kids. A lovably daft high-concept film about two mates on holiday with their dead boss. Hurray!

Weekend at Bernies II

The film is about Larry Wilson Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman).

They’re at a morgue to identify their boss—CEO Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser).

What follows is a rather convoluted plot involving voodoo machinations and a desperate struggle from multiple parties to get some of Lomax’s vast wealth.

It’s about as 1980s as a high-concept film can get. Wall Street but with a dead guy who has some funky moves.

Obviously, the majority of the film revolves around the dead boss concept. That appeals to your average employee, underpaid and fed up of their jobs.

The humour all comes about due to Bernie getting into unusual situations for a dead guy.

He reacts to music and dances, meaning he’s not just a useless cadaver the two leads have to improvise around.

That kind of reminds us of Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf. The character is dead, but is active in the sitcom as a hologram.

Anyway, most of the laughs come about from Bernie’s corpse whacking into things in a painful looking manner. All visceral good fun, eh?

It’s one of those films we watched a fair bit as kids in the early 1990s. Due to being children, we all found it pretty entertaining.

The same goes for Jaws: The Revenge (1987), the much lamented addition to that series. It’s easy to spot the film’s flaws and mock it. But for us as kids, it was all good fun.

However, on revisiting Weekend at Bernie’s II we can see the problems with it clearly. It’s not vomit-inducing in its terribleness, it just doesn’t deliver anything other than slapstick tropes.

Really, you could do a lot better with the ridiculous concept than this. So, if you do want to watch this, maybe go for the first one. It’s in full on YouTube for free.

As for the sequel… well, the goofy, slapstick humour carried over into the likes of Ace Ventura (1994).

But people remember that film as Jim Carrey was in it, along with the 1995 sequel When Nature Calls.

Whereas Weekend at Bernie’s II is kind of lost to obscurity. Until now! For it has a deserving place on this idiotic website. Huzzah!

Weekend at Bernie’s II—Production

Directed by Robert Klane, he’s also a novelist famous for his iconoclastic works.

We guess it’s no surprise he’d take on a film like this then. Even if Weekend at Bernie’s II was mauled by critics and wasn’t a commercial hit.

The first film, Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) was a surprise hit, taking in $30 million off its $15 million budget.

Weirdly, from the sources we checked the budget for the second film was only $7 million. That’s a bit odd, but there we go. You’d think they’d up the amount to go for a wackier experience.

Well, whatever, it only went on to make $12.7 million at the box office. So, it more or less was a dismal failure.

Filmed during 1992 in America (with locations including Virgin Islands and New York), crew were worried as the Los Angeles riots of April 1992 kicked off mid-production.

Ultimately, they were safe and secure and nailed the production down.

Regarding the film’s main thing, Bernie’s dead body, that was a mixture of Terry Kiser (now 81) playing dead.

But the crew also took advantage of a dummy for the more brutal scenes. Such as where Bernie’s corpse whacks into a palm tree. Nice.

The closing credits bear the legend, “No animals or corpses were harmed in the filming of this motion picture.”

So, yes, they were keen to push the high-concept idea right until the last moment.

2 comments

  1. I wouldn’t be happy with this film if it didn’t end with these two dinguses getting convicted of desecrating a corpse. You can play that for comedy too.

    Also, what is it with the 80s/early 90s and these weird high-concept comedies that have sequels no one probably watned? I vaguely remember Mannequin as well. This was all before my time, so maybe it was a “you had to be there” kind of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s one of those Hollywood flicks where real life laws don’t exist, I’m afraid.

      But yeah, the high-concept stuff seemed to stay a big feature until the late 1990s. Not as much anymore and not in the Liar Liar type Jim Carrey way. It was just a fad that made things sell. Like with superhero films now.

      Who knows, maybe in 10 years time low-concept movies will be all the rage!

      Liked by 1 person

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