7 Scenes We Love From ‘Strange Brew’

By  · Published on August 25th, 2013

This is a great week for beer-loving movie fans. Friday saw the opening of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, which involves a nostalgic pub crawl featuring many pints being guzzled, and Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, about employees at a brewery who spend their shifts drinking the wares. And tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the U.S. opening of Strange Brew (aka The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew). Last monday was the date it opened in Canada, so I guess I’m showing some fitting incompetence here. I should blame my brother or something.

Strange Brew is a feature-length adaptation by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas of their Canadian stereotype characters from SCTV, the McKenzie brothers. It’s also based loosely on Hamlet, making it the oddest update of Shakespeare still to this day (sorry, She’s the Man) and giving it way more plot than you’d expect from a dumb comedy about knuckleheads trying to get a free case of beer. The movie also co-stars Max Von Sydow as the villain, which wasn’t that rare a deal in 1983 but it’s still pretty awesome.

This movie isn’t referenced enough these days, in spite of it being a major predecessor to Wayne’s World, Step-Brothers, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and plenty of other modern favorites. It also has the best MGM lion logo parody since the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera. If you don’t love this movie and the following scenes, you’re a hoser, eh. Coo loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo!

Mutants of 2051 A.D.

Unlike the hosers in the movie theater who complain about Bob and Doug’s cheap sci-fi movie, which makes Ed Wood look like Ingmar Bergman, I wouldn’t have minded just continuing to watch “Mutants of 2051 A.D.” But the actual movie of Strange Brew is pretty entertaining all the same. I can’t help but think, though, that by this time in the warped world the McKenzies reside in that “Mutants” went on to become a huge midnight movie classic. And really selling it as a 3-B movie (three beers and it looks good, eh) would work especially well at any Drafthouse type cinema. Speaking of which, why the heck wasn’t this movie included in the Alamo Drafthouse Summer of 1983 series?

Last Beer

Mel Blanc! Yes, that’s the voice of Looney Tunes that you hear as Bob and Doug’s father in this brief scene that reminds us that we’re watching a kind of live-action cartoon. Which makes it okay that there’s a dog drinking beer. You just know Joe Dante was eating his heart out when he saw this.

Hosehead Saves the Day

And in case at any other time you forget this movie is a big cartoon, the climax will definitely cement the idea in your brain, as it features Hosehead the dog (played by Buddy the dog) flying through the air – with a temporarily grown Superman cape – to crash an Oktoberfest celebration featuring kegs of brew that have been villainously spiked with a mind control drug. Something I never thought of as a kid watching this movie over and over and over: it’s extra funny that a beer fest is ruined by a “skunk.”

Bob Avoids Drowning In Beer

Think that’s silly? Let’s go back a bit in the movie to one of my favorite gags as a kid. To avoid drowning in a brewery tank being filled up with beer, Bob (Moranis) drinks every last ounce. Which causes him to become a giant balloon of a man. But then how does he get out of the tank at such enormous size? Explode the wall of the tank with a massive burp. And that’s not all. Then there’s a fire at the brewery, and Bob comes to the rescue by pissing out the flames, which of course brings him back to normal. If this isn’t the most ridiculously childish movie of all time, I don’t know what is.

Lie Detector

You can’t be the most ridiculously childish movie ever without a farting scene. In my opinion, this is the most smartly conceived farting scene in film history. That’s not saying much, of course, but yeah I think it’s a better joke than the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles.

How You Handle the Press

How many celebrities and trial defendants would love to have a lawyer or bodyguard that handles the press the way Jack Hawkland (Len Doncheff) does? This is total Zucker-Abrams-Zucker territory. He and Die Hard’s Holly McClane should form a firm based in dealing with annoying journalists.

The Hockey Game

I’m not much of a hockey fan, but I’d go to more games if the players were controlled by awesome 80s synth sounds. I actually would prefer to highlight the scene when the suited-up asylum patients are just hitting each other because of random notes played on the keyboard. But this is a good enough scene particularly for the Star Wars stuff. The funny thing is, Return of the Jedi, which Doug is said to have seen 17 times, only opened in theaters a few months ahead of this movie – and long after the scene was written and shot.

Watch Strange Brew now on Amazon Streaming

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.