Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Strange Brew

(Rick Moranis/Dave Thomas, 1983)
Even in their sainted heyday, the SCTV gang could rarely navigate the rigors of an extended plotline. And that was with a full comic ensemble pushing from behind - here Moranis and Thomas are stranded at the head of an endless sea of failed straight men. You can literally see their spontaneous, improvisational working methods die on screen - they encourage countless little bits of business from Paul Dooley and Max von Sydow, but without an actual director at the helm or any comic verve to the performances, these barely catch your eye. Where the original routine was defined by its strict formal limits, this film plods through a formless and pushy narrative, some corporate hypno-espionage thing that takes up way too much space and limits the stars' creative elbow room. And where the McKenzie brothers originally conspired to take the piss out of the Canadian stereotypes they embodied, this movie's endless silly riffs on beer and hockey are lazy signifiers for the outside world and pandering, fist-pumping affirmations for the dumb louts these guys never really identified with in the first place.

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