Weekend at Bernie's
Reviewed by Tom Panarese
Rating: 8 Beans
have to admit, I went into "Weekend at Bernie’s" skeptical that it was going to be anywhere near entertaining. I mean, I do remember seeing it when I was 12 years old and laughing hysterically. Then again, when I was 12 I watched "Mannequin" repeatedly, too. Surprisingly, "Weekend at Bernie’s" proved to be an engaging social commentary on the vapid nature of high society.
In fact, this movie is groundbreaking because having watched it a few times over the last week, I see that it was definitely the blueprint for "American Psycho," another classic piece of high-society satire set in the late 1980s.
Two entry-level lackeys, Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) are working hard for insurance giant Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser). They’re working so hard, in fact, that they’re sifting through spreadsheets on the hottest Sunday in August in New York City. However, their initiative pays off when Richard discovers someone is cheating the company out of millions of dollars. Monday morning, they’re rewarded by Bernie as he invites them to his beautiful Hampton Island beach house for the weekend.
Thing is, Bernie’s the one stealing the money and he approaches his mob friends to have Richard and Larry killed. But in an intelligent double-cross, Bernie’s mafioso buddy decides that since Bernie’s getting sloppy (and sleeping with his wife), HE will be killed. A few days later, the hitman arrives and kills Bernie, leaving Larry and Richard to find the body.
And so begins the film’s social commentary. Just like nobody ever notices that Patrick Bateman is killing people, none of the champagne-drinking residents of Hampton Island realize Bernie is dead. Larry, who is the more charming of the two guys, wants to pretend Bernie is still alive. Richard, the straight man, protests, but when he realizes Bernie’s death would be disadvantageous to his winning the heart of Gwen Saunders (Catherine Mary Stuart), he goes along with the ploy.
This is how horribly vapid the excessively wealthy are. They don’t even notice a man has died! In fact, they are trying to wheel and deal his corpse (one of Bernie’s neighbors keeps trying to buy his Porsche). Larry, of course, seems to be enjoying it--who wouldn’t? But Richard still has his reservations. Then again, Richard still has his soul and in a fit of irony, he gets the girl only after she discovers the truth ... and after the mafia hitman, who sees Bernie “alive,” comes back to kill him. Repeatedly.
"Weekend at Bernie’s" teaches us what matters most in life and love is not money or status, but just being yourself.
Then again, I could be wrong and this movie could just be about doing funny things to a corpse.
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