Weekend at Bernie’s is one of those comedic films that age to perfection long after they have been released. The movie was trashed by critics when it premiered in the late 1980s. They hated it because the premise is basically a one-joke, not unlike a very short SNL sketch stretched out to become a movie. The one-joke conceit for Weekend at Bernie’s, which is that a dead guy is kept “alive” by two buddies, is supposed to carry the entire movie. The two friends are named Larry and Richard, and they are played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman, respectively. Their boss, Bernie, invites them to his Hamptons home for the weekend, but when they arrive, they find that Bernie is dead. No one notices that Bernie is now a corpse, so Larry, the ultimate partygoer, wants to maintain the illusion that Bernie is still alive so he can enjoy the weekend, enticing the reserved Richard to stay as well.
The film tries to convince moviegoers that a dead body could be kept alive for a long weekend when in reality Bernie would’ve decomposed before Labor Day ended. There are other things too that stretches our imagination, which is why we’ve concocted a list of 15 things in Weekend at Bernie’s that don’t make sense, but we don’t really care because we love its unabashed go-for-broke silliness. And yes, we know there’s a sequel, but the original is the only one that has reached cult status.
15. Wonky Plot
The plot of Weekend at Bernie’s is ridiculous. Basically, when Larry and Richard learn of Bernie’s death, they fear they may be suspects or fear they may be implicated. And yet, Larry, who plays the irresponsible party guy and foil to the more straight-faced Richard, only has Labor Day Weekend on his mind and wants to use Bernie’s summer house in the Hamptons. To do this, they would have to maintain that Bernie is still alive, and Richard only gives in when it’s revealed that Gwen, an intern for their company and Richard’s office crush, will be at the Hamptons too. This is so wrong in so many ways. Would you ever want to tag along with a dead body and pretend he is still alive? And what about Richard, who is grounded and responsible? It doesn’t make sense that he would go along with the premise because of a girl.
14. Only Captain America Could Do This
The movie continually shows Larry and Richard hoisting up Bernie’s corpse as they traipse through the Hamptons during a perfect summer weekend. We see the two holding Bernie and then putting him on a couch in his beach house, or holding him up as they move him to the deck and to the pool and then to the sand. The reality is, two men of similar height and weight wouldn’t be able to hold Bernie up. It’s like carrying a load of rocks in bags in both hands. While the camera makes sure to show that Larry and Richard are straining and have difficulty moving Bernie around, Bernie’s dead weight would’ve kicked in and, when it’s stiff as a board, you would need Thor to carry Bernie. Throw in all the Avengers while we’re at it.
13. Continuity Issues That Only A Foot Fetishist Would Want To Know
Weekend at Bernie’s has a lot of continuity issues. Here is a compilation of them that center on shoes and feet. In the scene where Richard and Larry are on a roof deck, Larry takes his socks off to put his feet in the inflatable pool. He puts his socks on the ground. The right sock moves and mysteriously disappears in one shot! There’s more. Larry wants to throw Bernie’s body over the deck and when Richard confronts him on this, we can see that Richard is barefoot on the deck. And then in the very next scene, when he calls the police, he has shoes on. The scene after that, when he helps Larry retrieve Bernie, he is again barefoot. And after that scene, the next is when we see the two buddies vacuuming Bernie. But at this point, Richard, who in the last scene was barefoot, has his shoes on once again.
12. Get Him To A Tanning Salon, Post Haste!
30 minutes to an hour after Bernie’s death, his body would begin to cool during algor mortis, which means “coldness of death.” Every hour, the body’s temperature would keep dropping a few degrees. If Richard and Larry want to pretend that Bernie is still alive, he would have to have been exposed to heat. The easiest way to do this is to place Bernie on a sun chair near his pool every few hours. Bernie’s body would then “continue to cool internally until it reached the ambient outside temperature,” as Scientific American claims. Here’s what doesn’t make sense. Larry and Bernie don’t know much about what happens when someone dies. There was no such thing as the internet back then, so no, “I’ll Google it.” It would be difficult to find out information about corpses. They can call someone who has some authority, but the conversation would sound like a prank.
11. How Do You Hide The Stink Of A Dead Man?
You don’t. At least in this movie you don’t. Bernie is quite the trooper while being propped up in a golf cart and sunbathing by the pool the day after the big party. In real life, this would never happen. According to an NBC article entitled, “Weekend at Bernie’s is 25. Here Is How It Would Really Happen,” the process of decay would have kicked in because of bacteria, fungi and protozoa working together and the body’s cells would have broken down. The result would not only be Bernie’s skin being discolored but also Bernie’s body would have started to smell so bad that it would’ve been like a dead whale washing ashore. What doesn’t make sense is that no one in the movie, including Larry and Richard, catch a whiff of a corpse. According to NBC, Bernie would’ve not made it through the weekend because of the stench.
10. If You Want To Manipulate Bernie’s Limbs… You Can’t
The inside joke is that no one but Larry and Richard knows that Bernie is dead. Bernie’s death is concealed with just some sunglasses on and is taken further when Richard and Larry manipulate his limbs and make his head nod. What Larry does to Bernie is hilarious, like making him wave, which is intended to show that Bernie is still alive and which apparently works. But this doesn’t make sense either. According to Scientific American, rigor mortis would set in three hours after Bernie’s death. The muscles of the corpse would start to stiffen. The body follows a downward trajectory, a head-to-toe direction. 12 hours or more, the entire body would be stiff, and joints can only be moved by extreme force. Maybe we need Thor to help move him? But Weekend at Bernie’s would’ve never worked as a full-length movie rather than a sketch if Bernie hadn’t been flexible.
9. Here’s What You Need To Know About Rigor Mortis
According to Scientific American, the muscles of Bernie would undergo rigor mortis three hours after his death. Joints can only be moved by force, so you may have to break a shoulder in the process as if you were removing the leg of a turkey. Just kidding! Rigor mortis fades in about two days, which is good, but then decay sets in, which is not good. Chemicals and muscle fibers allow us to freely move our body parts. After Bernie’s death, the chemicals can’t be used because muscle fibers become fixed in place. So, here’s what doesn’t make sense. Bernie’s character is unrealistic. He’s supposed to be stiff, not flexible. And yet he can walk (with help), get dragged behind a speedboat and, in one of the movie’s funniest scenes, which is the last scene, can get flipped off a gurney only to be buried in the sand by a child.
8. Get Thee To A Mortician If You Want Bernie To Look Alive
Body decay sets in after rigor mortis starts to fade in about two days. You need to quickly embalm the corpse or else cool it to 38 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Without embalming, which is the cleansing and disinfecting of dead bodies, the corpse would begin to decompose. The embalmer removes all blood and gases from the body and inserts a disinfecting fluid. So, it would make more sense that if Larry and Richard wanted to keep Bernie alive in a more realistic way, they would’ve gotten him embalmed so that Bernie would not decompose in front of everyone. This could have been a funny part of the movie. Larry and Richard can be seen breaking into a funeral home at night to embalm Bernie. But then they have no idea how to embalm, and so they just pump all sorts of liquids into Bernie’s body. Insert laugh track here!
7. If You Want To Make Bernie Look Alive, Get Out Your Makeup
After Bernie died, he would have experienced pallor mortis minutes after his death, which means his skin would lose color due to the fact that blood flow would have ended. Scientific American is onto the joke, and they wrote a piece as a coroner’s report to describe the death of Bernie through every stage. If you want to conceal Bernie’s death, the journal claims you would have to paint his face with a lot of makeup, as well as apply whatever makeup on your body that would closely match the skin tone of a living person. That would’ve been a classic scene if Larry and Richard started to mess with makeup but don’t know how to use it. So, here’s our question. Why did Bernie’s skin not change colors? And if his skin did to make the film more realistic, would Larry and Richard paint Bernie’s face?
6. Bernie As A Flotation Device
The one thing Weekend at Bernie’s gets right is that Bernie’s death would have resulted in his corpse being bloated. And because of that, his body would have acted as a flotation device. A flotation device! You wouldn’t even have to blow him up! And think of how well you would look when you’re treading water in your pool with your arms on Bernie’s chest. That’s a total Instagram moment. You look hot! Maybe a dead man has special powers that can make you prettier than you are right now. And since Bernie should be stiff, he’s an ideal flotation device for those who want to tan over his body. Alright, so we do have to take a moment to give credit to a movie that rarely gets anything right. Here’s one. The scene where Richard and Larry use Bernie’s body as a flotation device is actually factually correct. Hooray!
5. They Couldn’t Have Used A Mannequin?
Remember that scene where Richard and Larry are riding on a speedboat and don’t realize Bernie has fallen into the water and is being dragged behind the boat? A stuntman was used in place of actor Terry Kiser, who played Bernie. So that was an actual person being used and, guess what, it would’ve been difficult to accomplish without hurting your body. We don’t know how the stuntman did it, if the movie claims that they used him to film the scene and who is most notably seen bumping into metal floating obstacles. Dings! The stuntman, of course, suffered multiple injuries and also broke a rib during this boating scene. So, here’s what doesn’t make sense. Couldn’t they have used a mannequin? Did the producers not know that you wouldn’t have known the difference, as the crashing waves would hide Bernie’s face? This is just plain stupid, but yes, it’s funny.
4. What Did They Do To Their Injured Stuntman?
Well, you drug him up. Kiser was largely “acting dead” for nearly the entire movie. Can you believe how easy that would be for an actor? You don’t have to memorize lines and you can just relax while the movie is being filmed. But acting dead does have its pitfalls. A stuntman suffered some broken ribs from the boat scene. After that, he remained a stuntman for the remainder of the movie and was pumped up with heavy medication. Here’s what we don’t get. If Kiser played his part well and was used in nearly every scene, including those that could’ve endangered the actor, why not take advantage of the stuntman? Here’s the scenario: your stuntman is heavily medicated. He’s sleepy and it looks as if he’s dead. Take advantage of that stuntman!
3. You’re Supposed To Be Dead, Stop Blinking!
Weekend at Bernie’s is one of those movies where you have to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the film. One such issue is with Bernie, played by Kiser. If you look closely, the actor who is playing a dead man is often not playing a dead man. There are several occasions when Bernie blinks his eyes, breathes and doesn’t look dead. When Bernie gets injected with drugs, he has a smile on his face. Then, throughout the movie, he has a smirk on his face, or else has no expression at all. The movie switches back and forth between the two expressions. So here’s what we don’t understand. You are playing a dead man. How hard is that to do? We love Weekend at Bernie’s, but any director would have caught these issues so that the movie wouldn’t have to be a punchline.
2. Why Does Roger Ebert Hate Weekend At Bernie’s?
Well, he did. But it’s just a funny one-joke premise movie that doesn’t offend anyone, and it has a lot of goofiness, as well as heart. But for film critic Roger Ebert– if you don’t know who he is, Ebert had a show that reviewed movies in the 80s– he thinks differently about the movie. He says the movie makes two mistakes. One is that the one-joke premise is not funny. The other thing is that this “not funny” joke is required to carry the movie but can’t. What doesn’t make sense is how offensive Ebert thought of this movie. Well, why is the movie now a cult classic then? Why is it being sought out on DVDs and Netflix? Why was there a sequel? A sequel means that the original was popular enough and financially profitable. It has a built-in audience and has a lot of fan support. ‘Nuff said.
1. Here’s What Should’ve Happened But Didn’t
So, there are too many things that just don’t add up. Remember that Bernie is in rigor. Tina, one of Bernie’s lovers, comes over to his house to fight with him and ends up having sex with him. She claims it’s the best sex she’s ever had with him. She’s even shown with a post-coital cigarette dangling from her mouth. Sex with a dead corpse? How would you not know that when Bernie’s entire body would be stiff? Maybe in rigor, you can sustain an erection?
Here’s another one. Bernie would’ve become a fly magnet if he was dead. Flies are attracted to corpses almost immediately. So, for reality’s sake, couldn’t the makers of the movie show flies buzzing around Bernie’s body? That could’ve been a running joke, with Larry and Ricard making excuse after excuse to explain the flies. Now that would be both realistic and funny!
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