REASONABLE REMAKES: Weekend At Bernie’s

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Under The Gun is continuing our efforts to bring you more original and engaging content this week with the continued deubut of our latest feature, REASONABLE REMAKES. Written by film-nerd Justin Proper, this column aims to highlight Hollywood’s forgotten gems and spark debate.

You see, we’ve grown tired of Hollywood rehashing ideas we’re old enough to remember. Why remake something the majority of the planet still remembers and loves deeply when there are tons of films that deserve a chance to be as great as modern technology and skill can make them? If you agree, this column is for you.

If you have any suggestions for films or topics you’d like to see covered on REASONABLE REMAKES, please send an email titled “remakes” to utgjames@gmail.com.

Death. An inevitability of the human condition, or a great opportunity to get some laughs in a movie? I wouldn’t be lying if I said that the only reason I see most modern horror movies (like Saw or The Final Destination series’) is for the creative and often hilarious death scenes. Hollywood loves to make light of the thing some people fear most (not counting the Death At A Funeral remake, that was a national tragedy) and with that in mind I’m dedicating this article to the best movie about death to escape the 80’s: Weekend At Bernie’s.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll lay out the finer plot points for you. We’ve got 2 obviously slacker-esque characters (Larry and Richard) working at a big business of some sort. Richard is the straight man to Larry’s funny man, and the two have a good back and forth. The two discover a multi-million dollar discrepancy on the books at the business and take the news to their boss, Bernie. He invites them to his beach house on an island to celebrate, but as soon as they leave he arranges to have them killed (because he was cooking the books for profit). Bernie meets with the mob, it turns out the mob bosses wife is sleeping around with Bernie, so the mob boss has his goons kill Bernie at the beach house instead of Larry and Richard. Meanwhile a romantic subplot forms between Richard and the summer intern at the office, Gwen. The boys get to the lake house, find Bernie dead (the mob guy injected him with something then planted drugs on him) and panic a little. Then while they’re trying to figure out what to do some people start wandering in to Bernie’s house for a party and don’t notice he’s dead. Wacky corpse hi-jinks ensue. Yadda yadda, the mob guy thinks Bernie is still alive, the guys think he’s there to kill them, blah blah blah, they capture him, credits. There’s a lot of extra stuff that bogs down this classic corpse caper and that’s one of the main reasons I think it should be remade.

Even that plot synopsis was long winded, and I left a lot out. In the remake, we can change the story a little bit and simplify. This leaves more time for funny corpse gags. Fist off, lets drop the whole embezzlement thing. That’s fine, it worked, but we can get some great laughs out of a different, but similar, situation. Instead, we have Richard and Larry walk in on Bernie cheating on his wife with a man in his office. How great does that scene play out? Bernie can still call and put a hit on the guys, but leave out the stuff with the mob bosses wife. Bernie can get them to go to the beach house as a bribe for keeping their mouths shut. He’ll offer them an amazing party and money, so of course they’ll go. When they get to the house they’ll hang out awkwardly with Bernie for a bit, then he’ll suggest some drugs to lighten the mood. He does a line of coke, boom, dead. The rest of the movie plays out similar, but now it’s a little easier to take in. Another thing that would be different in the remake is that it would all take place over the course of one night. In the original they’re at Bernie’s for a whole weekend. It’s a bit far-fetched, even for a movie about a corpse pretending to be alive (much like Gran Torino). Instead of having it completely zany, we could focus more and dark humor and satire. I think that appeals a lot more to this generation than a dead guy being dragged behind a boat hitting metal buoys (If you want that kind of humor go watch a Wayans Brother film).

Casting seems like a pretty obvious choice for Richard and Larry. Richard could be played by Jason Segel, I think he’d be perfect for this role. One part Sydney Fife from I Love You, Man and one part Peter Gibbons from Office Space. He’d be a great straight man with an edge of comedy. Plus, how many height jokes can we make when they have to walk Bernie around? Still not sold on him? Well remember his puppet work at the end of Forgetting Sarah Marshall? Replace Dracula with Bernie. For Larry I’m thinking Seth Rogen. If you take his sarcasm from Zack and Miri Make A Porno and add a bit of his stoner character from Pineapple Express he’d be pretty much dead on. I think his rapport with Segel would be hilarious, just think of him saying something like “Jesus christ, can you bend down, you fucking giant!?” when they’re trying to carry Bernie around. Emma Stone would be a great female lead for Richard to awkwardly hit on, plus she could have some great reactions to the whole corpse thing. Last but not least Bryan Cranston could play Bernie. He’s the right age, he’s funny (think Malcom in the Middle, not Breaking Bad), and he’d be a perfect prick for the first half of the movie.

Now that you’re sold on this, let me hit you with a director. I know you’re all thinking “Judd Apatow” because we have Rogen and Segel, but if you think about it we wouldn’t have Apatow without the man I want for this remake: Kevin Fucking Smith. I know he wont be making movies after Hit Somebody, but dammit, this is my fantasy article, I’ll pick whoever I want. We’ve seen him get an awesome performance out of Rogen, and the back and forth between the two main characters would be perfect for him to direct. Plus, in the original a girl nails Bernie after he’s dead, and we all love Clerks, so it seems like a great choice.

That’s it for this week. Weekend At Bernie’s, remade and re-imagined. Please tell me who would have been better in the comment section, I don’t learn if you don’t argue with me. I’ll leave you with a clip before I go. Apparently there was a recent dance craze based on this movie. This may actually be more funny than any movie could ever be…

Written by: Justin Proper

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • enigmaDAEDAL

    I can see this working out fairly well. Segel and Rogen would work well opposite each other, and Cranston could play a great dickish boss. I also have a bit of a crush on Stone (which I assume I share with America), so that bit is gold.

    While Bernie getting caught in a gay affair would be hilarious considering the character, I can see it coming off as gay bashing if it’s not handled right. Smith could pull it well, I think, but it could be a bit difficult making sure Richard and Larry don’t come off as homophobic.

    Bernie death in your version rubs me the wrong way. While it’s a lot more practical (and yes, get rid of the fucking mob), I’d hate to this turn into just another stoner comedy. They are funny to stoners, sure, but they get boring very quickly if you don’t have…er…help.

    Sadly, I can’t actually recommend a way to replace this plot point with anything else, I can just say that it seems off to me.

  • I absolutely loved the original.   The 80’s were such a crazy time, especially for films and their concepts.  Think about being in a pitch meeting and your idea is to have a character die and then spend a weekend using his corpse for comedy.  I’m sure cocaine was involved in this film, on every aspect.  

    But I would disagree on this one sir, I would love to see a group like Broken Lizard take on this remake.  They have a style that could make this work and make sense, with out to much stoner comedy or a man on man affair.  

    I enjoy your articles, now call Hollywoodland and make the remakes happen.  I now wanna see a remake of Weekend at Bernie’s, I mean they made a sequel, the film has fans.