If you've got the time, we've got the brew--lite, zany and slightly intoxicating.
"Strange Brew," the adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie, is the first-ever movie in 3-B -- "Three beers and you'll love it," claim Canadian comics Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, who created the McKenzies for the late, lamented "SCTV" series.
Thomas and Moranis, who also wrote and directed "Brew," have got the gusto for good comedy filmmaking. They've been playing the hosers (regular guys), hosts of the fictitious "Great White North" talk show, for only three years now -- on TV, albums and now film. Their press release comes with a glossary, but viewers will just have to wing it as this pair broadly parody Canada's country crowd.
They also review their own movie in the press packet, offering critics a readymade review that begins, "G'day. Welcome to my movie review. . . Bob and Doug are really great actors. Like poetry in motion." And in case that doesn't work, they review their own film over the credits. (Siskel and Ebert refused cameo roles.) Doug complains of "some minor flaws," but thinks it's "worth $5 for me and my family."
It's a delightful film for McKenzie fans, who know when to laugh at the characters they already know and love. But it's also an innovative film for folks who just love watching directors play with the medium, the way Woody Allen used to do before he became serious to the point of "Zelig."
It's bawdy and full of whizzing jokes, what with all the beer-drinking. The film had a $5 million budget, but it cost only $600,000 to make, joke the stars, who say the rest went for beer. But it does have the on-purpose look of a low-budget production. The effects include spray paint and a few little computer-generated whizbangs, but it's almost anti-technological. And that's refreshing. Instead, the two play with standard images, starting the film with a belching, bleary-eyed Leo, the MGM logo lion, followed by a brilliant prologue that includes a homegrown short called "The Mutants of 2051." Then it's on to the real movie, which also includes its share of anarchy.
The McKenzies, with their faithful dog Hosehead (as in, take off, hosehead), save a beautiful heiress (Lynne Griffin) from an evil brewmeister, played with too much restraint by Max Von Sydow. The dastardly Von Sydow has concocted a mind- controlling drug that he's putting into people's beer for no discernible reason. But only Bob and Doug can stop him "because they have no minds." The dog also literally flies to the rescue at an Octobeerfest.
It's a loosely constructed movie, rough and raw, but good for more than a few laughs. After you blow away the foam and discount the wandering, nonessential storyline, you'll find a playful, punful little film with salutes to Steven Spielberg and other recent favorite filmmakers. Sound good? Then this, bud, is for you. STRANGE BREW -- At area theaters.