blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993, Robert Klane)

Suppose one makes it to the third act of Weekend at Bernie’s II, which is not a suggestion or recommendation to undertake such a burden. In that case, one will see some bewilderingly competent underwater photography. Including what appears to be Terry Kiser doing takes without any oxygen nearby. Maybe it’s Kiser, maybe it’s not. He already deserved an Oscar nomination for his physical performance in Bernie’s II; if he actually did the underwater stuff, it’s just more apparent he was robbed. Tommy Lee Jones should’ve called him up to the stage and handed over the statue.

Kiser gets a lot to do this movie because he’s a voodoo zombie. See, something something criminal conspiracy, it turns out Kiser was in league with some voodooed-up mobsters. It’s unclear if Novella Nelson’s voodoo priestess runs the mob or what, but she’s certainly in charge of getting Kiser’s money back. So she sends Tom Wright and Steve James to resurrect Kiser in the New York City morgue; the spell will have him leading Wright and James to the money, which they’ll then bring to Nelson.

Wright and James are actors playing a comedy routine. A lousy comedy routine, poorly directed, and entirely composed of Black media stereotypes (Wright and James are Black men). It’s sometimes a lot, sometimes quite terrible, sometimes actually impressive. Wright and James are atrocious at the physical comedy, but their dance sequence is good work. Technically. There’s not a lot of good work in Bernie’s II, so it stands out. Their dancing, the underwater photography, the rest is pretty terrible. Except Kiser.

But Wright and James are just one set of comedy duos in the film. Bernie’s II recasts returning leads Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman as a comedy team. McCarthy’s the obnoxious dumb one (with what I think McCarthy thinks is a New Yorker accent); Silverman’s the cautious, sweet, probably Jewish one. In this sequel, both actors literally repeat the performance from last time, just mixed up. They even have McCarthy repeat his lines like they were pop culture catchphrases. It’s terrible. And while it’s embarrassing to watch McCarthy humiliate himself for what cannot have been worth it pay-wise, he’s also never sympathetic. You feel bad for Silverman, you feel bad for Kiser, you feel bad for Troy Byer (as the not love interest love interest), for Wright, James, Nelson—even Barry Bostwick. But you never feel bad for McCarthy because you’re watching his complicity.

Byer’s a resort employee who makes the mistake of going out with McCarthy, which embroils her in the plot later on because she’s the only islander they know. Bostwick’s the insurance company investigator who follows McCarthy and Silverman down to St. Thomas. I assume they got a tax break to shoot in St. Thomas, who mustn’t have realized Weekend at Bernie’s II wasn’t going to do them much good tourism-wise.

See, McCarthy and Silverman want into Kiser’s safety deposit box, so they’re going to steal his body and Bernie’s him into the bank. It might be too macabre if it weren’t such an insipid film.


There’s nothing good about it (except Kiser, the underwater sequence, and the one dancing scene). Klane’s direction is much better than his script and still godawful. Bernie’s II leans in heavy to misogyny and racial stereotyping but then doesn’t even do anything once it’s there. There’s no joke, just a shitty setup. Klane’s not edgy; he’s just desperate.

It’s a terrible movie. And long. So long.

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