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‘SCTV’s’ McKenzie Brothers Cook Up a ‘Strange Brew’

The McKenzie brothers, the two simple-minded, beer-drinking talk show hosts of “Second City TV” fame, made the jump to the big screen in “Stange Brew,” a freewheeling 1983 comedy that makes fun of just about everything, including itself.

For those unfamiliar with “The Great White North” hosts Bob and Doug McKenzie, created by Canadian comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, they’re affable but infantile, and they can’t say a sentence that doesn’t end with “eh?”

And if there’s anything the McKenzies love more than beer and doughnuts, it’s, well, more beer.

Although the movie concerns the dimwitted pair stumbling, quite literally, onto a plot to enslave the world with drugged beer, it’s really just an excuse for the characters to ricochet through breweries, courtrooms, hockey rinks and an insane asylum while gently poking fun at everything that crosses their path.

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The two must bring down the evil Brewmeister Smith, played by Max Von Sydow, who is inexplicably endowed with superhuman strength and moonlights as the chief psychiatrist at the Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane--which just happens to be next door to the brewery.

Smith also has a partner who makes the McKenzies look like Einstein--an impressive feat, considering that in one scene the brothers are left alone in a room filled with electro-shock equipment and begin taking turns zapping themselves.

There’s also a hilarious movie-within-a-movie made by the McKenzie brothers involving “fleshy-headed mutants from outer space.” This film possesses a gleefully wretched plot, with acting and dialogue to match: The hero, played by Bob, explains that 10 years after World War IV, “There was nothin’ to do, as all the bowling alleys had been wrecked. So I spent my time cruising the Forbidden Zone--lookin’ for beer.”

This is not sophisticated humor by a long shot (at one point Doug McKenzie rubs his neck and complains “I’m getting whiplash from my burps”), but it is good fun, eh?

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“Strange Brew” (1983), directed by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. 90 minutes. Rated PG.


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