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Film / Weekend at Bernie's

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"What kind of a host invites you to his house for the weekend and dies on you?"

A 1989 comedy film directed by Ted Kotcheff, in which junior actuaries Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) get duplicitously invited by their scheming boss Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser) to his fancy Long Island beach home for the weekend. Hilarity Ensues when Bernie is murdered (by someone else) and circumstances force the hapless duo to lug his corpse around, pretending he is still alive.

Unsurprisingly, the film's title was originally used as the name for the trope Of Corpse He's Alive.

A sequel was made in 1993, which is even more ridiculous than the first thanks to the addition of voodoo and dancing corpses.


Contains the following tropes:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Richard. Not only is he played by a Jewish actor, he's a neurotic New Yorker whose choice of venue for a date with Gwen is a Jewish-Chinese fusion restaurant.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Larry and Richard carry Bernie's corpse around and make it move like a ragdoll without it ever showing any signs of rigor mortis or putrefaction.
  • Asshole Victim: Bernie himself. He was a Corrupt Corporate Executive who was planning on killing the protagonists for unknowingly discovering his scheme, but the mafioso he was working for decided that Bernie himself was the one who needed to be taken care of.
  • Beach Bury: "Mister, can I bury you?"
  • Black Comedy: What else would you expect from a movie where two guys carry around their boss's corpse while trying to make it look like he's still alive?
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  • Blatant Lies: At the climax, the hitman finally catches up with them and shoots Bernie six times... then looks up and sees three witnesses. Oh, Crap!.
    Richard: I didn't see anything! I was looking at my watch!
    Larry: I'm blind!
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The bratty kid obsessed with burying Bernie's body.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When the boys find the letter Bernie wrote up explaining their deaths as suicide because Larry got a sex change only for Richard to fall out of love with him, Larry is distraught. ...because what will this say about him if word gets out he got a sex change? It's Richard who has to remind him that (A) this letter hasn't been released to the public and (B) nobody even got a sex change in the first place.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The protagonists were unaware of it, but Bernie was the one behind the insurance fraud that was going on in their company.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Vito, when he finds out Bernie is sleeping with his girlfriend Tina.
  • Creator In-Joke: The film's director Ted Kotcheff makes a couple of nods towards his involvement in the Rambo franchise, name-dropping the eponymous hero, and with the guy playing Lomax's gardener, who was also the main villain in the second Rambo film, wearing a very similar outfit.
  • Death as Comedy: The whole plot of the movie, two guys dragging their boss' dead body around so as to try to not get caught.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Shortly after Bernie's death, a young, blonde, busty woman comes into his house wearing a teeny bikini and asks the two male protagonists if they've seen Bernie. (She wants to know if the beach party is still on.) She has no idea that they - and the audience, most likely - are staring at her. (They clearly aren't used to beachgoers who dress like that.)
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Vito, Paulie, and company.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Tina shoves her foot into Bernie's crotch at the dinner scene.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Just before Paulie shoots Bernie, he says "cornuto", an Italian insult that implies the other person is a cuckold - and that the primary reason the hit was called in the first place was that Bernie was sleeping with a mobster's girlfriend.
  • Groin Attack: Paulie's stalking the boys through the house to the tune of "Vissi d'arte", kicks Bernie's legs aside just as the aria reaches its climax (2:35), only for one of his heels to spring back into Paulie's crotch.
    YOU KICKED ME YOU... [shoots corpse - again]
  • He Knows Too Much: When Bernie's actuaries Larry and Richard discovered insurance fraud and told them they were planning to expose it with the hopes of getting promoted in doing so, Bernie (who was behind the fraud) begs his boss Vito to assassinate the two. Vito decides Bernie is getting too greedy with power and money and offs him instead.
  • Ho Yay: Between Larry and Richard; it's noticed by Bernie. Also, a woman at Bernie's party acknowledges the ho yay in Sherlock Holmes, writing a book about him and Watson being 'secretly married'. It's also invoked in the original "suicide note" written by Bernie. He was originally going to claim that Larry stole the money so he could have a sex change operation. And live with Richard as his lover.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: This is exactly why Bernie winds up in the state he's in for most of the film; he tries to get the protagonists killed by the mob, but the mob winds up murdering him and staging it as a suicide.
  • Hypocrite:
    • When Larry is about to smoke a cigarette in Bernie's office, Bernie (who is smoking away himself) objects "No smoking." Larry does immediately put it away.
    • Tina, who is in a relationship with Vito, is having an affair with Bernie and gets enraged when she suspects Bernie's cheating on her.
  • I Love the Dead: Things turned really strange when Tina, one of Bernie's lovers came to argue with him, and ended up having sex with him. And she claimed it was the best they'd ever had. And he was dead.
    • It's implied that the drug overdose Paulie gives Bernie ends up giving him an erection even as it kills him. And, of course, with rigor mortis setting in...
      Larry: How do you like that? The guy gets laid more dead than I do alive.
      • Naturally, this becomes a Call-Back in the second film, since it turned out Larry doesn't get laid at all.
  • Irishman and a Jew: While there is no indication from their Anglo-Saxon surnames "Wilson" and "Parker", the protagonists conform to some extent to these stereotypes- Larry is a confident, outgoing, booze-swilling and not-too-bright merrymaker (who takes to praying the "Hail Mary" under duress and is outright confirmed as Catholic in the sequel), whilst Richard is neurotic and constantly aghast at the horrible things happening around him. Larry's aggressive pursuit of the fairer sex seems like it is in contradiction to the usual stereotype of the prudish Irishman, but he bemoans that "(Bernie) gets laid more dead than I do alive" and in the sequel admits he's a virgin. He just feels it's a blow to his manly pride to admit it.
    • Richard's New York Judaism is also strongly implied by his choice of date venue with Gwen: a Jewish-Chinese fusion restaurant called "Hymie's Hunan" with sweet-and-sour matzo balls on the menu.
  • It's All About Me: The Central Theme, Played for Laughs. EVERY ONE of Bernie's snob neighbors is so self-absorbed they fail to realize that him being oddly limp, quiet, and unresponsive means he is dead. Richard figures it out almost immediately, as do the two beat cops who find him on the subway in the second movie. Larry's first reaction - who hopes to somehow climb to Bernie's social standing - is to complain about how his weekend has now been ruined.
    Larry: I don't understand why he couldn't wait until Monday to kill himself.
  • The Mafia: The boss Bernie reports to is even named Vito.
  • Moral Myopia: Tina is outraged at Bernie for apparently cheating on her... even though she's cheating on her boyfriend Vito with Bernie.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: The plot formerly known as Weekend at Bernie's. It also Codified the trope as a stupid idea, because it was pointless. Richard and Larry find Bernie dead of an apparent drug overdose, then find a recorded message on the answering machine ordering a hit on them, but specifically told the hitman not to kill them if he was anywhere near them, so he could have an alibi. They thus decide to pretend he's alive until they can get off the island. Unknown to them, the hitman had higher orders to kill Bernie and only Bernie, and having done so was just going to leave peacefully. All dragging Bernie's corpse around did was freak the hitman out until he lost his mind, shot Bernie repeatedly to make sure he was dead, then tried to kill them for witnessing the shooting.
    • Oh, and it proved that every single one of Bernie's friends was a shallow asshole. Especially his girlfriend(s), one of whom has a whale of a time screwing his dead body.
    • Not that Larry was much better; he was focusing on all the luxuries in Bernie's house. Richard was the only person in the entire movie (besides the guy who killed him) to figure it out without having it shoved in his face.
  • Refuge in Audacity: May as well be called "Refuge in Audacity: The Movie"! The story is basically these two boys passing off a corpse as a living person on sheer, comical luck that no one suspects he's dead.
  • Rule of Funny: Certain facts about corpses are cheerfully ignored.
  • Sanity Slippage: Paulie the hitman, who gets dragged away in a straitjacket at the end, screaming that Bernie is still alive.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Not only does the bratty kid seems too obsessed with burying Bernie's body, but he also flips Richard and Larry the bird after scaring them with a toy gun.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Bernie is popular with everyone at the resort, and even the protagonists think he's a pretty Nice Guy before finding out about his corruption.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Why Vito has Paulie kill Bernie instead of killing Richard and Larry; Bernie was getting too greedy, got sloppy as a result - hence him getting caught by two losers. Oh, and he was also sleeping with Vito's girlfriend Tina.

The sequel contains:

  • Accidental Pervert: Bernie, while getting dragged across the beach by a parasail rope, grabs two girls bikini tops and leaves them on Hummel.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Hummel uses his camera to snap a few pictures of some girls in bikinis.
  • Animated Credits Opening: It's a pretty mediocre one, though.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The two bad guys are turned into goats by the end of the film, and are stuck being dragged around by Bernie.
  • The Dead Can Dance: But only when there's music playing, due to an Imperfect Ritual.
  • Denser and Wackier: This film is less realistic, having zombies and voodoo-magic in it.
  • Hello Again, Officer: Hummel gets arrested by the same officer twice.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Cock-a-doodle-do.
  • Imperfect Ritual: The two bad guys were given instructions on how to re-animate Bernie so he could lead them to a buried treasure. However, they performed the ritual in a public bathroom, and a key element - a live chicken - escaped(and was implied to have been... appropriated... by a man in an adult theatre), so they used the pigeon when they should have used the chicken...
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The luckless Hummel gets arrested (three times!) and has something close to a nervous breakdown thanks to encounters with Bernie... all without the heroes being any the wiser.
  • Inspector Javert: Hummel.
  • Made of Iron: Bernie's body gets shot in the head with a harpoon and chewed on by a shark. By the end of the movie, there's no scratch on him.
    • Well, except for the harpoon still being in his head.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Bernie ends up a Type V. Sort of. The two bad guys screwed up the ritual that was supposed to fully revive him, so now he can only move when music is playing.
    Larry: Swim with the fishes, you zombie bastard!
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Gwen Saunders, Catherine Mary Stewart's character from the original film, is nowhere to be seen here. In one sense justified since the sequel takes place a week after the original, where she would be in college as mentioned previously. On the other hand, Richard spent the entire first movie obsessing over her romantically, and at the end of this one casually sails off on a yacht with Larry and a crew of nubile women.
  • Unexpected Virgin: In the end, they need the blood of a virgin to save Richard's life. Everyone looks around nervously, and Richard thinks he’s finished...until Larry puts his arm out.
    Larry: Just take the blood, Doc.
  • Unknown Rival: Larry and Richard are unaware Hummel is tailing them until the very end of the movie, despite indirectly causing a lot of trouble for him. To a lesser extent, they only become aware of the Big Bad two-thirds of the way through the film and she was likewise had no idea about them.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Both Larry and Richard, and Charles and Henry drag Bernie around in a busy road and no one seems to notice or care.
  • Virgin-Shaming: At the end, Richard teases Larry about him still being a virgin.
    Larry: Just twist the knife a little deeper, why don't you?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Weekend At Bernies II


Weekend at Bernie's II

The film starts off with credits displayed alongside a short animation depicting what happened before the film's events.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AnimatedCreditsOpening

Media sources:

Main / AnimatedCreditsOpening