The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew

Canada’s brain drain is a trapdoor letting out all its geniuses to save production costs. MGM serves as a springboard for Thomas and Moranis to make a film in Canada that’s a work of genius.

It opens with the premiere of Bob & Doug’s film, The Mutants of 2051 A.D., which serves several purposes, the most important being it gives everybody a thorough hosing (it also sets the sci-fi tone and prefigures Spaceballs).

The cinematic situation in Canada is represented as a shortage of beer. Bob & Doug are about to drink the beer and dog food out of Hosehead’s dish, but they wind up working at Elsinore Brewery. As they enter, Doug (Dave Thomas) does a subtle variant of Bob Hope’s walk. They tussle in a corridor on their way to the interview.

Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow) is first seen using his private washroom concealed behind a global map of his enterprises. Von Sydow applies a touch of Alec Guinness in The Ladykillers, stays en règle as a Canadian science-fiction villain, and there you are. As his lackey, Claude Elsinore, Paul Dooley wears brown shoe polish on his hair and eyebrows, with just a touch of feathering at the sides of his brow. Angus MacInnes with combed-back hair and a wide mustache is also homegrown.

The story is a modification of Hamlet, arranged after the manner of, say, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (with very strange echoes of Barbarella), but filmed very quietly as though it were a Canadian science-fiction film ca. 1960. Brewmeister Smith wields a tranquilizer gun, and controls a hockey game of live players in vaguely Star Wars costumes, black vs. white, like Spy vs. Spy rugby on ice. He’s taken over the business by killing Pam Elsinore’s father, etc.

Von Sydow and Dooley disguise themselves as Doug and Bob, respectively, armed with tranquilizer guns. They sever the brakes on Bob & Doug’s van, which speeds down a hill and into the bay. The police look on, there is a dissolve to indicate the passing of time, divers are sent down to extricate the bodies. The van is at the bottom and filled with water, but Bob & Doug have survived by drinking beer. A diver taps on the driver’s side window, Doug puts down his beer with a typically troubled face, rolls down the window, takes out his wallet and shows his driver’s license (the entire gag rivals the underwater saloon fight in Top Secret).

“BEER HEIRESS SNATCHED”, reads the headline, in an homage to Leslie H. Martinson’s Batman. Bob & Doug are framed for the crime, their lawyer uses kung fu on the press, they’re committed and, wearing pajamas and straitjackets in a padded cell, roll around trying to pummel each other. Later, during a supervisory lapse, they have fun giving each other electroshock therapy, and finally they make their escape with Pam, who is trapped by Brewmeister Smith in a beer storage tank with Bob (Rick Moranis), who drinks it all in an homage to The Drowning Pool and bloats up like the whore in Fellini’s City of Women.

The hockey players revolt, Brewmeister Smith dies impaled on his map (its situation lights are lasers), and his evil plot is foiled by Superhosehead.