THE ADVENTURES OF BOB & DOUG McKENZIE: STRANGE BREW (1983) – Two Canadian hosers

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The following is my entry in the O Canada Blogathon, being hosted Feb. 1-5, 2016 by the blogs Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. Click on the above banner, and read blog entries related to Canadian personalities and subject matter that have contributed to cinema!

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There’s no way you can describe the vibe of “SCTV” (TV series, 1977-84) to anyone who wasn’t in on it to start with. It’s like trying to describe how you felt when you saw the original cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

However, for the pop-culture-history-impaired, “SCTV” was set at an imaginary TV station that allowed for wacko “local” characters as well as dead-on parodies of any major film or TV show you’ve ever seen. Since the show was produced in Canada, Canadian TV decided they needed two minutes of Canadian content each week. Thus were born Bob and Doug MacKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), two toque-wearing siblings who blathered on about the virtues of beer and back bacon.

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“Bob and Doug Mackenzie” were like “SNL’s” “Wayne’s World” in the early 1990’s. The first time I saw them, I completely did not get them. After that, I couldn’t wait for their next appearance.

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All that is by way of saying that Strange Brew is about as funny a movie version of the Mackenzie Bros. sketches as you could ask for. The movie begins predictably (and hilariously) with Bob and Doug trying and failing miserably to move their “Great White North” TV segment into feature films. (The moment where Doug does the “movie theme” kills me every time.)

From there, the movie goes on to a half-baked plot about the brothers uncovering espionage at the local brewery (run by Paul Dooley and Ingmar Bergman veteran Max von Sydow, neither of whom seems to have any idea how they got into this movie). Basically, it plays like a Cheech & Chong movie for the 1980’s, with beer taking the place of illicit drugs.

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That said, it manages to come up with a fair number of laughs, as when the Mackenzies take brief digs at Star Wars, or when their dog “Hosehead” unexpectedly saves the day at movie’s end.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Mackenzie milieu, the DVD of the movie will help you out. It has an old “SCTV” Mackenzie sketch, as well as a brief but funny animated version of the brothers.

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Great comedy can never be properly explained to the uninitiated. On that basis, Strange Brew is a classic.

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11 responses to “THE ADVENTURES OF BOB & DOUG McKENZIE: STRANGE BREW (1983) – Two Canadian hosers

  1. Like you, I didn’t quite “get” Bob and Doug, though I loved SCTV, which always aired after SNL in Chicago. The movie isn’t a favorite of mine, but it brings back fond memories. Oh and that ridiculous Take Off song!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been years since I’ve seen this – and I have never seen the trailer. So glad you brought this to the blogathon. Bob and Doug MacKenzie are a Canadian institution!

    Thanks so much for these memories. I think I might spend the rest of the day watching Bob & Doug MacKenzie clips on YouTube!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: O Canada Blogathon – Day 1 Recap – Silver Screenings

  4. Oh man SCTV was on late night in syndication when I first moved to the US, that show was amazing and Strange Brew was absolutely classic! I love that movie, great choice, okay now I need to re-see that film.

    Go Canada 🇨🇦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course I have! When my young son “came of age,” I introduced him to Bob & Doug McKenzie and impressed him by playing their “Great White North” LP and being able to recite practically the entire album alongside itself word by word.

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  5. As an American expatriate now living in Edmonton, and a former non-SCTV watcher, my first experience with these guys was hearing “Take Off” in 1982. But being a Rush fanatic, I of course had to buy the album. Years later, my husband is still amazed that I can sing their “12 Days of Christmas” by memory (“FIVE GOLDEN TOQUES!”) Thanks for a great entry, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. LOVE Bob and Doug!. I recently bought a turntable, and among the first albums I played on it were Great White North and the Strange Brew soundtrack … I then shut off the turntable and spent the rest of the evening looking up McKenzie clips online.

    My brother and I watched Strange Brew in theatres numerous times when it first came out (has it really been over thirty years?!?!). My favorite part is Bob and Doug’s self-made movie Mutants of 2051:

    “Fleshy-headed mutant, are you friendly?”
    “No way, eh. Radiation has made me an enemy of civilization.”

    🙂 Bob and Doug were the coolest. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

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