Strange Brew (Blu-ray)

March 9, 2016 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Those crazy Canucks (Canadians) made their motion picture debut some thirty years ago and the film has been a favorite of mine ever since. Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas respectively) had their own skit on the popular SCTV (Second City Television) which has produced such comics as Harold Ramis, John Candy and Dan Ackroyd just to name a few. Years after they had all gone onto Saturday Night Live, or Hollywood, the show was still kicking and this little-known pair had somewhat of a cult following. Naturally, it wasn’t until their feature film that most of the world was introduced to the talents of Bob and Doug McKenzie. Rick Moranis (Bob) went onto more immediate fame with his roles in Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, My Blue Heaven and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. But let’s not forget Dave Thomas (not the founder of Wendy’s, in case anyone was wondering) who has continued to make me laugh throughout all the years.

The story starts simple enough as we’re introduced to the guys on their show. It turns out that it’s actually “art imitating life” when the film isn’t that well-received by the audience. As fate would have it, Bob and Doug McKenzie are essentially two normal people who spend their days trying to get free beer. After a failed attempt to get a case at a local liquor store, they get jobs at Elsinore Brewery where they’re assigned to look for mice in bottles of beer (they got the job after they brought their scheme into the brewery and convinced them that this was actually happening). However, there is something else that’s happening at Elsinore and the brewmaster (Max Von Sydow) is trying to drug the beer so that he can have complete control over everyone who drinks it. This scene is best illustrated during an offbeat hockey match.

Bob and Doug find out about the scheme (well, sort of…) and as fate would have it, their lives are now in danger. The daughter of the now deceased President, Pamela, has befriended them and they’re all trying to stop the spread of what could become the end of humanity! This movie is best watched, well…when drinking, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas not only wrote, but Directed the film as well and that might be why it plays so well. The humor is juvenile and if you try to approach the film from a critical point of view, you’ll most likely be let down. The movie doesn’t try to make any sort of statement, but it just has fun watching the characters having a good time. If you can suspend your disbelief for 90 minutes (and you have a few Elsinore’s in the fridge) you’ll have a great time watching this now classic movie. Highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

I know this will date me, but I actually saw Strange Brew when it came to theaters. Yes, this was in 1983. Wow – time flies. It’s been a dozen years since the movie first made it to DVD and now we’ve got it on Blu-ray. Thankfully Warner has taken some care of this cult classic and we’re treated to a new transfer that actually looks pretty good. The film was never known for high production values and most of the scenes look kind of dull and lifeless. This, however, is no longer the case as the colors seem bold and brighter, detail has been improved and maybe it’s just me – but it just feels more like a higher budget movie than it originally did. The 1.85:1 AVC HD image has certainly benefitted from technology and at the risk of sounding like a cliché, this is the best the movie has ever looked. Not bad, eh.

Audio: How does it sound?

Likewise the audio has been bumped up to a DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mix. The film wasn’t and never will be the epitome of anything dynamic regarding the sound, but this stereo mix does the movie justice and works just fine. Vocals are crisp, we get to hear all of the mumblings of Bob and Dave and plenty of “Eh’s” abound. Surround effects aren’t an issue as, well, there aren’t any. The directional mix works well and I’ve got no complaints with the way this sounds.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray release appears to have the same supplements ported over from the 2003 DVD.

  • The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie –  When the DVD came out, so too did this short-lived show. Running about five minutes, it wasn’t the same as the film.
  • “How to Stuff a Mouse in a Beer Bottle” – A sketch from SCTV (the Canadian version of SNL for those who don’t know) shows us a scene that appeared in the film itself. I’ve never tried it personally, but I suppose it could work.
  • Theatrical Trailer 

The Bottom Line

Many films claim to be “cult classics”, but this is one that can actually fit the bill. Every time I see Strange Brew on television, I sit back and watch it and laugh. I’m still scratching my head that it’s been over thirty years since I first saw it, but now that it’s on Blu-ray and looks and sounds like it does – no complaints here. This belongs on every shelf.

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