Ever wonder why you never hear anything about the Canadian space program? Perhaps you should ask those two rocket scientists from the Great White North- Bob McKenzie and his brother Doug. If these two guys are any indication of what the general populace of Canada is like, itís pretty doubtful that youíll ever be hearing anything about the Canadian space program. With that said, I have to admit that I genuinely love the McKenzie brothers and I particularly love their first (and sadly only) cinematic opus STRANGE BREW ($20).
For those of you unfamiliar with the McKenzie brothers, they were two of the hilarious characters from SCTV, which were brought to life on both the small screen and the silver screen by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. The exploits of these two beer-loving morons from Canada continually made me laugh and when they finally found their way to the motion picture screen, STRANGE BREW made me laugh even harder. There isnít anything sophisticated or elegant about the comedy of the McKenzie brothers- itís all wholesome honest stupidity that strives for nothing more than making folks laugh.
The plot of STRANGE BREW follows Bob (Moranis) and Doug (Thomas) from the depths of independent filmmaking to the even deeper depths of trying to scam some free beer from Ellsinore Brewery. Unfortunately our heroes find themselves running afoul of the mad Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow), who is plotting to take over the world (or at least Canada) by putting a mind-controlling drug into the latest batch of Ellsinore beer. Finding themselves framed for kidnapping and proved legally insane (which wasnít particularly difficult), the McKenzie brothers end up confined to the mental asylum whose property adjoins Ellsinore Brewery. Will our heroes ever escape from the clutches of the evil Brewmeister Smith and save the day? What do you think? The cast of STRANGE BREW also includes Paul Dooley, Lynne Griffin, Angus MacInnes, Tom Harvey and the voice of Mel Blanc.
Warner Home Video has made STRANGE BREW available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This transfer provides STRANGE BREW with the best looking home presentation that it has ever had. Unfortunately, STRANGE BREW must have had a budget that hovered around ten bucks, because this is a really cheap looking movie that no transfer could improve. Short of George Lucas coming in and doing one hundred million dollars worth of CGI improvements, this is probably the best that STRANGE BREW is ever going to look. Of course, since STRANGE BREW was produced in 3-B (3 beers and it looks great), many of the filmís fans may not notice certain deficiencies in the visuals. The image is a bit on the soft side, plus film grain is rather noticeable throughout. There is some speckling on the film element, but nothing too bothersome. Colors tend to be on the muted side, plus flesh tones sometimes look a little pale. Blacks are accurately rendered and contrast is decent. Digital compression artifacts are a non-issue.
Although the packaging indicates that a Dolby Surround soundtrack is on the DVD, STRANGE BREW is presented in Dolby Digital monaural. Considering the budget of this movie, the listing on the packaging must contain a typo. The soundtrack is relatively clean, but is otherwise flat and undistinguished. Sound effects are pretty unconvincing and the filmís music, while amusing, lacks any kind of significant fidelity. Dialogue is always understandable and is usually pretty darn funny. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Iím sure that fans of the McKenzie brothers will be disappointed by the fact that there is no commentary track on the DVD, either by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis as themselves or in character. However the DVD does include an original SCTV sketch directly related to one of the movieís key plot points. Seeing this SCTV sketch makes me long for the showís release on DVD. Also included on the DVD is a trailer for The Animated Adventures Of Bob And Doug McKenzie, which I would imagine is a show in the works- at least I hope. A cast & crew listing, some filmographies and a theatrical trailer close out the DVDís extras.
STRANGE BREW is goofy, stupid, hilarious good fun. Warner has done a nice job with the DVD release, making this a disc that fans will definitely want to own. So pick up your DVD, a case of Molson Canadian, and take off, eh!
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