Weekend at Bernie's
|Weekend at Bernie's|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ted Kotcheff|
|Produced by||Victor Drai|
|Written by||Robert Klane|
Catherine Mary Stewart
|Music by||Andy Summers|
|Editing by||Joan E. Chapman|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Weekend at Bernie's is a 1989 comedy film directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman as a couple of young insurance corporation employees who discover their boss is deceased. Believing that they are responsible for his death and that a hitman won't kill them if Bernie is around, they attempt to convince people that he is still alive.
The movie was mostly filmed in various locations around Wilmington, North Carolina.
||This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2012)|
Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) are two employees at an insurance corporation in New York City who uncover a fraud involving multiple life insurance policies that were issued after the death of the insured. They take their findings to their boss Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), who commends them for discovering insurance fraud and invites them to his Hampton Island beach house for the weekend. Unbeknownst to Larry and Richard, Bernie is behind the fraud and nervously arranges with his mob partners to have them both killed that weekend and arrange it as a murder-suicide. However, the gangsters double cross Bernie and decide to have him killed instead, citing his reckless greed and his affair with the mob boss Vito's girlfriend as the motivation.
Bernie arrives at the island before Larry and Richard and speaks to the appointed hitman Paulie (Don Calfa) on the phone, to plan out the murders and establish an alibi, unaware that the conversation is being recorded on Bernie's answering machine. Bernie then writes a confession and plants cash implicating Larry and Richard in the insurance fraud. Paulie arrives, kills Bernie with heroin and plants it on him to make it appear as a drug overdose. When Larry and Richard arrive at the beach house, they find their boss dead. Before they can call the police, however, guests arrive for a party that passes through Bernie's house every weekend. To Larry and Richard's amazement, the vast majority of people are too engrossed in their own partying to notice that their host is deceased, with Bernie's dark sunglasses and dopey grin from the fatal injection concealing his lifeless state.
Fearing they will be implicated in their boss's death, Larry proposes that he and Richard maintain the facade, a notion that Richard finds absurd. Only the arrival of Richard's office crush, Gwen Saunders, convinces him to postpone notifying the police. After the party, Richard manages to take Gwen out on a romantic walk on the beach, but Bernie's body ends up being carried out by the tide and washes up next to them, prompting Richard to go back to the house and conscript Larry into retrieving the corpse.
Vito's girlfriend Tina arrives at the house, convinced that Bernie has been cheating on her. She threatens Larry and Richard with a knife and they direct her to the bedroom, but she also fails to realize that he is dead. At that moment, another man from Vito's gang witnesses the two of them supposedly making love. Fooled into thinking that Bernie's assassination failed, he notifies Vito, who orders Paulie back to finish the job.
The next morning, Richard is appalled to discover that Larry is maintaining the illusion that Bernie is alive by manipulating his corpse. The two bicker about alerting the police until Richard attempts to call the police himself but instead accidentally activates the phone message detailing the plot against them. They then realize that alerting the police will implicate them. Unaware of the circumstances of Bernie's death, they mistakenly believe that they are still the targets of a mob hit, they decide to use Bernie's corpse as a prop for protection. Paulie, in the meantime, has returned to the island and strangles Bernie's corpse.
The two make various attempts to leave the island, but Bernie's body becomes repeatedly misplaced and recovered in the process. They attempt to board the mainland ferry with Bernie in tow, but are too late to board; Paulie, unfortunately, sees them and assumes that Bernie has somehow survived. Gwen sees them return and angrily decides to confront Richard for his bizarre behavior. Paulie, unhinged at the inexplicable "immortality" of Bernie, returns to the island.
At the house, Gwen confronts Larry and Richard, who reveal that they had found Bernie dead right from the start. At that moment, Paulie returns and empties a pistol into Bernie's chest immediately after entering the house. Once he realizes that the three are witnesses, he chases them through the house. Larry takes advantage and clumsily subdues him with a phone cord and a punch.
The police eventually arrive to place Paulie under arrest for first degree murder, carting him off in a strait-jacket as he continues to insist Bernie is still alive. The film ends with Bernie being loaded into an ambulance. However, his gurney rolls away and topples off the boardwalk, dumping him onto the beach right behind Richard, Larry and Gwen who run off after noticing him. Eventually, a young boy comes along and starts to play by scooping buckets of sand over his body.
Though the film was not a critical success, holding only a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it was still a cultural icon as well as a financial success, grossing $30 million at the box office, and was profitable on home video.
In popular culture
- The film was parodied during the December 4, 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live in an SNL Digital Short titled: "Party at Mr. Bernard's" with Robert De Niro in the titular role.
- Senator John McCain joked that if Alan Greenspan, then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve, were to die in office, McCain would want to "do like they did in the movie Weekend at Bernie's ... I'd prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him and keep him as long as I could." After Greenspan retired from the Federal Reserve, McCain later made the same joke that he would appoint him to a commission to review the tax code even if he were dead: "If he's dead, just prop him up and put some dark glasses on him like, like Weekend at Bernie's.'"
- In 2008, in Hell's Kitchen (New York City), the New York Daily News reported that two men tried to pass off their dead friend as alive so that they could collect his social security check.
- Box Office Information for Weekend at Bernie's. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Weekend at Bernie's at Rotten Tomatoes
- Johnson, Steve (Jul 13, 1993). "Resurrection 'Weekend at Bernie'S II' Feels More Like a Month". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- "Familiarity Breeds Film Hits". Daily News of Los Angeles. Jul 13, 1993. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- McGlynn, Katla (Dec 5, 2010). "'SNL' Digital Short Spoofs 'Weekend At Bernie's' With 'Party At Mr. Bernard's'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- Berry, John M. (1999-12-26). "Greenspan an issue in campaigns". Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.). Washington Post. pp. 1E. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- Rhee, Foon (2007-10-04). "McCain gets off another funny line". Political Intelligence (Boston.com). Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- alive, Life (2008-01-09). "Two in Hell's Kitchen bring dead man to cash his social security check". Daily News (New York).
- Weekend at Bernie's at the Internet Movie Database
- Weekend at Bernie's at the TCM Movie Database
- Weekend at Bernie's at AllRovi
- Weekend at Bernie's at Box Office Mojo
- Weekend at Bernie's at Rotten Tomatoes