Today! Because there wasn’t much to do. All the bowling alleys and donut shops had been wrecked –
Strange Brew (1983)
Directed by Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas
Starring Rick Moranis (x3), Dave Thomas (x2), Max von Sydow (x3), Paul Dooley (x4), Lynne Griffin, Angus MacInnes, Brian McConnachie, Jill Frappier, Mel Blanc (x2)
Does your average person point back to a period where they watched a lot of television and refer to this as a particularly formative time of their life? I’ve hung out with a lot of strange theater/writer types in my day, so most of them seemed to have a story like this, but I don’t know about regular people. Is this common? Well, for me, the brief corridor of time in the early ’90s when Nick at Nite ran half hour Best of Saturday Night Lives and half hour SCTVs was probably it for me. In addition to the overwhelming amount of TV I watched at all other times of the day, this hour block every weeknight seems responsible for a lot of my thinking about comedy, enjoyment of it, and lamenting that they don’t make ’em like they used to.
To my knowledge, the only movie based on an SCTV sketch is Strange Brew. I liked “Great White North” as much as anybody – for all its improv-wonderful scatterbrained stream of consciousness jokery – but it’s not something you’d immediately think would make for a decent movie. Hell, a bunch of other SCTV characters and bits were probably more adaptable to the big screen – John Candy’s Johnny LaRue (Polynesiantown practically was a movie), Monster Chiller Horror Theatre, even the Sammy Maudlin Show all feel a little more natural. But Bob and Doug Mackenzie were the big breakout stars, and so they concocted this wild Canadian Hamlet with everyone’s favorite hosers.
I have no perspective on this movie, I’ll readily admit. There are things we’ve seen way too many times to be able to step back and really evaluate fairly anymore. I suspect this movie is a lot dumber than I realize, but I always crack up at the crazy Star Wars hockey sequence and their murder trial and their underwater beer bottle-enabled survival. Does this movie promote an unhealthy relationship with beer? Shut up, nerd! It’s fine!
The lasting power of Bob & Doug is pretty remarkable, considering SCTV has virtually no viewership in the modern day in America (I can’t speak for what is aired in Canada – is SCTV re-run all the time up there? Lucky you, Canada!). Every few years it seems there is some new variation on the Bob & Doug characters – from cartoon shows to commercials to albums – despite Rick Moranis being basically retired from performing. But how is Strange Brew holding up? Is this the cult classic everyone assumed it would be? Or is this just the rare curiosity where Rick Moranis and Max von Sydow finally made a movie together? (Okay, Max von Sydow was the voice of Vigo in Ghostbusters II, but that hardly counts)
For a list that already contains the Broken Lizard’s #283 Beerfest, I would still like to award Best Drinking of Mass Quantities of Beer to Bob Mackenzie, for his heroic draining of that tank. Virtually no awards for Strange Brew! Unfair!
Voice legend Mel Blanc (#299 Peter Pan) joins the Two-Timers, with his brief role as the Mackenzie brothers’ dad, alongside Doug himself Dave Thomas (#287 Stripes). Rick Moranis (#253 My Blue Heaven, #198 Spaceballs) and Max von Sydow (#216 The Exorcist, #180 Hannah and Her Sisters) join the Threes, while the furthest advancing guild member today is the great Paul Dooley to the Fours, following appearances in #365 Popeye, #219 The Player, and #213 Slap Shot! Spotlight!