If Strange Brew wasn't based, loosely, on Hamlet then I'll eat my shorts (eh?) Here's what we've got:
  • "Elsinore" Brewery--Founded and owned by John Elsinore who is killed, via electrocution, by his brother "Claude" Elsinore. Claude then quickly marries John's wife--taking 49% of the brewery with the marriage. John is clearly Hamlet's "ghost" of the King (who, incidentally, tells his secrets via a "Galactic Border Patrol" arcade game in the snackroom instead of appearing in ghostly form to the watch) while "Claude" is our Claudius--uncle to Hamlet and usurper of the throne. Mrs. Gertude Elsinore--a small part in Strange Brew--fulfills the role of Gertude, our Queen.
  • John's daughter, Pamela, inherits 51% control of the brewery--here we have our Hamlet.
  • The resident hockey player (this is Canada, remember) is "Jean LaRose" (Rosey) who would seem to be our "sometimes sister" friend "Ophelia". He plays Pamela's love interest and even has a "drowning" scene. He doesn't die, however, as this is a comedy--not a tragedy.
  • Henry Green, the original brewmeister (the "well meaning but helpless" one), would seem to be our word-burdened advisor Polonius.
  • Brewmeister Smith, the evil genius behind Claudius, is a bit of a stumper--we don't see his like in Hamlet. He could represent (and this is a stretch) Claudius' darker side--the side with no regret--but more likely the creative process up in The Great White North sort of fell apart at this point. To make it fit the mold we'll have to say Smith is Laertes. He's evil, for sure, but not manipulated like Laertes would seem to have been.
  • Bob and Doug McKenzie--our hosts and unwitting narrators are history's own Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Similar to the Shakespeare characters they wander the "castle" unawares of all that goes on around them. (For another adventure of these two please read or see the film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead--a play by Tom Stoppard)
A side note: Mel Blanc supplied the voice-over for Mr. McKenzie (Bob and Doug's father). What does Mr. McKenzie appear to do all day? Watch WB cartoons and drink beer, hoser!!


Of course, it's the language that a "film" brings us that keeps it lingering...Strange Brew brought us almost as many catch-lines and cliche' as Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead;



      "Lawyers are for sucks."

      "The power of the force has stopped you, you hosers!"

      "He saw Jedi seventeen times, eh..."

      "Take off, eh?!"

      "If I didn't have puke breath, I'd kiss you."

      "Let me try, I'm a genius."

      "It's my last one...it's a jelly"



Now, who can tell me how My Own Private Idaho (1991, directed by Gus Van Sant) is actually a retelling of Shakespeare's King Henry V???
dem bones did a fantastic job with the Hamlet comparisons. I recently showed this movie at a "twisted Shakespeare" movie party and couldn't convince the host that it was, in fact, a Hamlet parody until they bribed the secretary with donuts and got the whole story that the owner recently died, his brother married the widow and took over, and the daughter Pamela was the true inheritor. Then he groaned.

It begins with Bob and Doug McKenzie on a couch in front of a map of Canada as on SCTV, only now they're doing a movie. (Actually, first there was this bit about trying to make the MGM lion roar, but that's short.) They start to show a film they made called Mutants of 2051 AD, which seems to be a decent, very low budget sci-fi film, but then the tape breaks, the audience riots, and they dash away in a panic. Feeling guilty, one brother gives their father's beer money to some kids who are crying in the alley because they saved up their allowance to see the movie.

So now they have to buy beer but have no money, so they go to The Beer Store with a mouse in a bottle, claiming it was like that when they got it so they should get a free case. The cashier tells them to take off and go to the brewery if they want free beer. So they do.

Elsinore brewery is right next to the Royal Canadian Institute fot the Mentally Insane. It later turns out there are tunnels connecting the two, and Brewmeister Smith is actually a psychiatrist.

As they pull up, a woman is stuck in her car between the entry gates, sparks flying. They ram her with the van to get her through. Once they have bribed the secretary and gotten in to see the uncle about their mouse, guided by hockey player Jean la Rose (aka Rosie) who seems to be both an Elsinore employee and an RCIMI inmate, they discover that she is Pamela Elsinore. She believes their mouse story, and Henry says such things never happened when they had men watching the bottling lines, so she gives them both jobs watching the bottling lines. They return home that night with their van full of beer, much to their father's delight.

Gradually we learn that BM Smith and Pamela's uncle are plotting together to drug the beer so they can control everyone with it. They are testing it on the inmates, making them play hockey and attack the opposite color when the music is right. This leads to the line, "Luke, I am your father. Give in to the dark side of the Force, you knob." Pam and Henry also discover, through the video game, that they killed her father.

They want to get rid of Pamela and the brothers, so during a game they steal the brothers' clothes and wear them to shoot Pam and Henry with tranquilizer guns, stuff them into kegs, and load the kegs into the back of the van. They then knock out the brothers also, switch the clothes back, and put them in the front seats. They tell them they have to drive to Lakeside Park with the beer for Pam's birthday party. Rosie hears this and follows them on his motorcycle because he is in love with Pamela.

While still in hockey gear, the brothers had "accidentally" (it is later implied that Pam's dad's ghost guided them to it) gotten a computer disk out of Smith's secret lab. Doug stuck it in his underwear. On the way to the park, they stop to feed their dog, Hosehead, check out the disk, and decide it must be a British new wave band, so they give it to the dog too. He later gives it to the cops, and it contains all the evidence needed to convict Smith and the uncle.

The breaks go out on the downhill, sending the van into the lake, kegs flying out behind them. Pam somehow got out of hers, and Rosie dove in to save her. The cops call an ambulance to get Henry out of his. As they are sitting on the docks, it appears that Rosie and the brothers have drowned, but soon we discover that they have beer bottles full of air and are sitting in the van together. They are accused of kidnapping, and Pam pretends to go insane.

We end up with all five of our "heroes" in the mental institution, with Smith planning to do lobotomies on all of them. They escape, then split up: Bob with Pam and Doug with Rosie. Bob is crying because they've never been apart before. He and Pam get captured and placed in a beer tank, which Smith starts filling. Doug and Rosie go get into hockey gear and bring the inmates out to stop the bad guys from bringing the drugged beer to Oktoberfest. They lead the black team to attack the uncle, who is wearing a white lab coat, and the white team to attack Smith, who is wearing black as usual. The uncle gets run through the labeling and boxing machines, and Smith gets electrocuted by the red lights he had on a wall map for some reason.

The ghost then shows Rosie which vat Pam is in, and they rush down there to open it, only to discover that Bob drank all the beer and really has to go to the bathroom. The RCIMI is on fire due to sparks from the brewery, so Bob puts out the fire.

However, the beer is already gone, so they have to stop the crowd from drinking it. Doug sends Hosehead, who is black with two white strips down his back, the clear out the crowd. He flies all the way to Kitchener from Toronto and crashes through the tent roof. Everyone starts yelling "skunk!" and running away. So everything is ok, and the brothers volunteer to "dispose" of the beer. Bob doesn't want to let Doug drive, afraid he'll crash the huge truck, but he insists he won't because it's a beer truck.

And Pam and Rosie live happily ever after.

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