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12 Frosty Facts About Strange Brew

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Sit back, relax, throw on your favorite tuque and a parka, and knock back a couple of your favorite beers in the Great White North. The 1983 cult comedy classic Strange Brew is being released on Blu-ray for the very first time, courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. In honor of Bob and Doug McKenzie’s Canadian adventures, here are some facts about Strange Brew—you hoser!

1. BOB AND DOUG MCKENZIE STARTED OUT AS A FLUKE.

Comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas created the characters of the excessively Canadian brothers Bob and Doug for the third season of the influential Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV, which debuted in 1976 and moved to the CBC network in 1980. CBC’s executives stipulated that two minutes of each show needed to be dedicated to Canada-centric topics, so as a joke Moranis and Thomas used the allotted time to completely improvise a sketch where they played two bumbling, overly Canadian men talking exclusively about farcical Canadian culture. The joke caught on, and the brothers made the leap to American television in 1981 when NBC ordered new seasons of SCTV to be shown in the States, and specifically requested the McKenzie brothers be part of it.

2. STRANGE BREW WAS MADE BECAUSE OF THE SUCCESS OF THE BOB AND DOUG COMEDY ALBUM.

Moranis and Thomas released an album of sketches and songs as Bob and Doug called The Great White North in 1981 because of the success of the characters on North American television. The album went on to sell more than one million copies in North America, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. The album’s broad success and appeal of the characters prompted Moranis and Thomas to quit SCTV in 1982 in order to write a script for a Bob and Doug movie.

The album is hinted at in Strange Brew itself, when an audience member watching the movie within the movie criticizes Bob and Doug’s stereotypical intro saying, “They did this on the album, too!”   

3. THE MOVIE WAS ALSO MADE BECAUSE OF JOHN CANDY.

John Candy was also a member of SCTV in the early 1980s with Moranis and Thomas, though he stayed with the show until its final episode in 1984. But Moranis and Thomas got the idea to leave SCTV to make a Bob and Doug movie after Candy was offered the lead role in a comedy for Universal Pictures called Going Berserk, about a chauffeur moonlighting as a musician who gets into a series of madcap adventures in the lead-up to his wedding day. The movie also starred SCTV cast members Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty, as well as Paul Dooley, who would go on to appear as the devious Uncle Claude in Strange Brew.

4. THE PLOT TO THE MOVIE IS LOOSELY BASED ON HAMLET.

Dave Thomas studied English Literature in college, and thought it would be funny to class up Bob and Doug’s big-screen debut by modeling the pair after Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Pam (Lynne Griffin), who takes over her recently deceased father’s brewery in the movie, is also modeled after Hamlet, who in the play returns to Denmark after the murder of his father. English lit fans will also note that Elsinore Brewery is named after Hamlet’s royal castle of the same name.  

5. THEY MAY HAVE COINED THEIR ICONIC CATCHPHRASE.

How about this, eh? You better take off, you hoser! In between swilling Molson beer, Bob and Doug repeatedly use clichéd Canadian language, and in particular that wonderful term of Canadian endearment, “hoser.” Despite a rich colloquial history that may have started out as a turn of phrase to describe the person hosing down ice to maintain a hockey rink, the first written record of the word “hoser” is allegedly from a 1981 article in the Toronto Star describing Moranis and Thomas’ characters.

6. BOB AND DOUG LOVED STAR WARS, BUT THEY MISSED SOMETHING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

At the beginning of the hockey game scene where Bob and Doug find themselves in the middle of Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow) and his minion controlling the minds of the asylum patients via random notes on a keyboard, the brothers make a joke referencing Star Wars.

“I am your father, Luke. Give in to the dark side of the force, you knob,” Doug says, decked out in hockey pads that resemble Stormtroopers from the galaxy far, far away. “He saw Jedi 17 times, eh,” Bob says to Elsinore Brewery employee Jean "Rosie" LeRose, who also takes part in the game.

What Bob and Doug don’t know is that Angus MacInnes, the actor who plays Rosie, played Gold Leader, one of the Rebel Alliance Y-Wing pilots who died during the attack on the Death Star in the original Star Wars.    

7. BOB AND DOUG’S DAD IS BUGS BUNNY.

Cartoon fans should recognize the voice of Bob and Doug’s TV-obsessed father, who continually yells at the pair to get him a beer. It’s the voice of actor Mel Blanc, better known as the man behind Bugs Bunny and dozens of other iconic Looney Tunes characters including Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, and Yosemite Sam.

Moranis and Thomas, who co-directed Strange Brew, inserted Blanc’s voice as the dad during post-production on the movie. The voice actor, who was then 75 years old, earned $10,000 for an hour’s worth of work on Strange Brew.

8. MAX VON SYDOW AGREED TO PLAY BREWMEISTER SMITH BECAUSE HIS SON WAS A FAN OF BOB AND DOUG MCKENZIE.

The role of Brewmeister Smith was actually written with von Sydow in mind. But Moranis and Thomas thought actually enlisting the normally solemn actor, who was perhaps best known for appearing in Ingmar Bergman films like The Seventh Seal, to be in their Canada-centric farce would be impossible. It turns out that Freddie Fields, then-president of MGM—the studio that made Strange Brew—had just produced a movie called Escape to Victory, which starred von Sydow. So he sent the esteemed actor the Strange Brew script. Instead of hashing it out with Fields, von Sydow ran it by his son, who was a huge SCTV fan and encouraged his father to take the role.   

9. A BEER BOTTLE-SHAPED PAPERBACK BOOK WAS RELEASED TO PROMOTE THE FILM.

While not a direct novelization, a book shaped like Bob and Doug’s ubiquitous beer bottles was published as a promotional tie-in for the movie. The book touted its “ingredients” as “A mellow blend of choice cartoon tidbits and the finest photo-snippets aged in goatskin bags.” It also featured a fake library card insert with the signatures of famous Canadians who had allegedly checked the book out, including hockey player Bobby Hull and author Margaret Atwood.

The book is currently out of print, but you can find copies on Amazon for $500. That's a lot of beer money.

10. A SEQUEL TO STRANGE BREW, TITLED HOME BREW, WAS SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED IN 1999.

Strange Brew was a modest hit when it was released in 1983, pulling in just over $8.5 million at the box office against a $4 million budget, and allowed Moranis and Thomas to have continued careers in comedy throughout the 1980s. Moranis eventually took a hiatus from acting in the late 1990s, but emerged when Bob and Doug returned in a Molson beer ad campaign around the same time.

The success of the campaign prompted Moranis and Thomas to write a script with SCTV writer Paul Flaherty in 1999, and the sequel received funding from comic book writer and entrepreneur Todd McFarlane before being fast-tracked to pre-production. Moranis agreed to come out of semi-retirement to reprise his role, but the funding for the movie fell through, causing Home Brew to stall completely.  

11. EVEN THOUGH THE SEQUEL WASN’T MADE, BOB AND DOUG LIVED ON IN CARTOON FORM.

The McKenzies eventually returned in animated cartoon form in a series developed by Fox in 2008. Initially titled The Animated Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie, the show, eventually retitled Bob & Doug, ran for a 10-episode first season and a five-episode second season on Canada’s Global Television Network. Moranis and Thomas created and executive produced the show, but only Thomas returned to voice Doug, while Canadian actor Dave Coulier provided the voice of Bob.   

12. YOU CAN BUY YOUR OWN ELSINORE BEER.

If you finish watching Strange Brew and feel like you want to down your very own six-pack of Elsinore Beer, you’re in luck. In 2013, Canadian brewery Phillips Brewing Company introduced an unofficial brew of Elsinore, which promised that “Flavours of light citrus and sweet grasses highlight this cold-fermented and lightly hopped brew, that’s clean through the body and finishes dry.”

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11 Single Facts About Bridget Jones’s Diary
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While it's not officially a holiday movie, so much of the action in Bridget Jones's Diary happens around the most wonderful time of the year that the rom-com has become essential wintertime viewing for many movie fans. Based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name, it tells the story of a very single, and hopelessly romantic, working professional named Bridget (Renée Zellweger) who is determined to improve her love life. Enter two strapping gentlemen (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) to vie for her heart. Get to know more about the timeless dramedy that’s been delighting audiences since 2001. Just as it is.

1. THE SOURCE NOVEL CAME ABOUT FROM AN ANONYMOUS COLUMN ABOUT SINGLE LIFE.

In the foreword of Bridget Jones’s Diary, author Helen Fielding wrote about how she came to conjure up the story: “The Independent asked me to write a column, as myself, about single life in London. Much as I needed the money, the idea of writing about myself in that way seemed hopelessly embarrassing and revealing. I offered to write an anonymous column instead, using an exaggerated, comic, fictional character. I assumed no one would read it, and it would be dropped after six weeks for being too silly.”

2. SEVERAL CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON PEOPLE IN HELEN FIELDING’S LIFE.


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These include Jude (Tracey MacLeod) and Shazzer (Sharon Maguire, also the film’s director). In a column for the Evening Standard, MacLeod described how she didn’t even realize she inspired part of her best friend’s story until Fielding’s book launch party. “At the launch party for the first Bridget book, I was cornered by a smug married friend, ‘So ... what's it like being Jude?’ she asked,” MacLeod writes. “I was outraged. Of course I wasn't Jude, with her self-help books and horrible boyfriend. My boyfriend wasn't anything like Vile Richard ... But as more people began to believe that Jude and Shazzer were thinly-veiled portraits of myself and Sharon, I secretly got to like the idea.”

3. TONI COLLETTE DECLINED THE LEAD, AND KATE WINSLET WAS CONSIDERED FOR IT.

Before Zellweger stole the show, Aussie Toni Collette and Brit Kate Winslet were up for the part. According to AMC, “Toni Collette declined the role because she was on Broadway starring in The Wild Party at the time, and Kate Winslet was considered but the producers decided she was too young.”

4. HUGH GRANT ONLY SIGNED ON WHEN RICHARD CURTIS WAS ANNOUNCED AS THE WRITER. 


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“The only reason [I was a hard sell] was because I didn't feel they had the script quite right for a long time,” Firth told Cinema.com. “And I kept saying, ‘It's not working. Just get Richard Curtis to come in and help rewrite it.’ Eventually they did, and as soon as Richard came on board, I signed on the dotted line. So that's all it was.”

5. RENÉE ZELLWEGER GAINED 17 POUNDS FOR THE PART.

Zellweger’s weight gain for the role had the media abuzz for a while. According to The Guardian, “In order to play the eponymous heroine in the film adaptation of Fielding's bestseller, the actress gained 17 pounds, consulting a dietitian and endocrinologist who devised a regime of three full meals a day, multiple snacks, and no exercise.”

6. ZELLWEGER WORKED AT PICADOR FOR THREE WEEKS.

Zellweger went full Method for her iconic role, and became a temporary employee of the Picador publishing house. “We came up with a plan: she would be Bridget Cavendish, Bridget for obvious reasons and Cavendish as she was to be passed off as the sister of Jonathan Cavendish, a friend of one of our company chairmen,” Picador publicist Camilla Elworthy told The Guardian. “That last bit at least is true, and no one was to know that Jonathan Cavendish was one of the film's producers.”

7. ZELLWEGER KEPT A PHOTO OF JIM CARREY ON HER DESK.


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While working at Picador, Zellweger kept a picture of Jim Carrey on her desk—which made her alter ego Bridget Cavendish seem like some sort of obsessed fan. “Under the name Bridget Cavendish, she answered phones, served coffee, and made photocopies—without being recognized by any of her co-workers, who offered career advice and wondered privately why she kept a photo of Jim Carrey (her then-boyfriend) on her desk,” noted Hollywood.com.

8. ZELLWEGER INVITED HER BOSS AT PICADOR TO BE AN EXTRA ON SET.

In Camilla Elworthy’s write-up for The Guardian, she noted how she became a part of the production. “Renée sent me a thank you letter and gift after she'd gone and I have seen her a few times since then," Elworthy wrote. "She invited me on to the film set one day. She informed me that I had to stick around and be an extra and made sure that I was put somewhere that I would be seen ... As a result, half my head can be seen for half a nano-second in the launch party scene.”

9. THE EPIC FIGHT SCENE BETWEEN GRANT AND COLIN FIRTH WASN’T CHOREOGRAPHED.

You can thank the two actors for the hilarity of the iconic scene. In a Vulture article about the greatest fight scenes in movie history, writer Denise Martin recalled the improvised spar, writing, “No stunt coordinators. No elaborate choreography. Just a perfectly realized wimp brawl between two upper-middle-class Englishmen coming to awkward fisticuffs in front of a Greek restaurant.”

10. FIELDING ASKED FRIEND SALMAN RUSHDIE TO CAMEO IN THE FILM.

Recalling how he came to be part of the film, famed novelist Salman Rushdie told Texas Monthly, “Helen Fielding, the author of the book, is an old pal of mine, and she asked if I’d come along and make a fool of myself, and I said, ‘Why not?’”

11. GRANT DIDN’T HEAR ZELLWEGER SPEAK IN HER AMERICAN ACCENT UNTIL THE FILM’S WRAP PARTY.

Zellweger was so engrossed with Bridget Jones that one of her leading love interests didn’t meet the real actress until the end of the shoot. “Not once did she stop speaking with that accent, until the wrap party,” Grant told Cinema.com, “when suddenly this weird ... Texan appeared. I wanted to call security, I didn't know who the f*ck she was!”

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10 Fabulous Facts About Absolutely Fabulous
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In the early 1990s, long before it was acceptable for women on TV to act in a juvenile manner, BBC scored a major hit with Absolutely Fabulous, a.k.a. Ab Fab, which featured two British women who behaved badly—chain-smoking and abusing drugs and alcohol. Jennifer Saunders played Edina, a publicist who said “sweetie darling” a lot and raised a mature-for-her-age daughter, Saffy (Julia Sawalha). Edina’s best friend was Patsy (Joanna Lumley), a model-turned-fashion magazine director who donned a beehive hairdo and came out as transgender (and also said “sweetie darling” a lot). She also enjoyed the booze, and asked important questions like, “Who dies in their own vomit these days? Nobody.” Edina’s nameless mother (June Whitfield) and Eddy’s personal assistant, Bubble (Jane Horrocks), also added flavor to the show.

The story began in 1990 when Saunders and Dawn French were a part of sketch TV show French and Saunders. Saunders did an eight-minute skit as Edina and French played Saffy. A few years later, while on hiatus from the show, Saunders jotted down the idea for what would become the pilot for Ab Fab. “At the beginning it was all about Saffy and Edina, because when I first wrote it, Patsy was a sort of add-on character who supported Edina in her awfulness,” Saunders told Out Magazine. “But actually I just love working in a double act.” 

The series originally aired off and on between 1992 and 2003, with a total of eight specials sprinkled between 1996 and 2012 (including a 2012 Summer Olympics special). In 2016, Fox Searchlight distributed Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, written by Saunders. The film revived the debauched antics of the friends and included an opening sequence in which Edina accidently killed Kate Moss. Here are 10 fabulous facts about the series.

1. JENNIFER SAUNDERS BASED THE SHOW'S CHARACTERS ON REAL PEOPLE.

By the time Saunders created the sketch on French and Saunders, designer fashion was becoming more widespread, and she knew a fashion publicist. “I thought, ‘That’s a genius job for a sitcom character,’ so we did her as a sketch,” Saunders told Lena Dunham during an interview with Lenny. “We also had another friend who had an absolutely bonkers mother who was eccentric and wild, and me and Dawn just combined the two.” Patsy was originally a “low-life journalist,” but Lumley’s background as a model helped shaped the character into someone who was more polished.

2. IT DEVELOPED A DEVOTED FOLLOWING IN THE GAY COMMUNITY.


BBC

When discussing the series, Saunders told V Magazine that the reason the show was such a hit with the gay community is because "[gay people] refused to be offended—and I admire them for that. Thank God you’re hanging on in there.” Looking back on the series, Lumley said that all the gay references seemed normal to her. “It’s really normal that one of [Edina’s] ex-husbands now lives with his young boyfriend,” she said. “It’s completely normal that [Edina] wants Saffy to be a lesbian or that Serge [Edina’s long lost son] is gay and living in New York. It’s completely normal that Patsy is transgender.” Lumley also said she thinks Patsy makes a good drag queen, “because Patsy’s quite tall,” she said. “You just want to get your good yellow wig on.”

3. IT PROBABLY WOULDN’T FARE WELL IN TODAY’S CULTURALLY SENSITIVE CLIMATE.

When Vanity Fair asked Saunders if Ab Fab would air today with the same jokes intact, she said: “I think it’s a tricky time for comedy, because people are now so aware of not offending, and everyone is quite precious now about their identity. I don’t think we could make half the jokes we did then.”

In fact, Saunders admitted that she did run into some issues while working on the 2016 feature version of the series. “If you write a movie, you have raft of lawyers telling you who you can offend and who you can’t offend, and who’s going to sue you and who won’t,” she said. “So, it was quite an issue, I have to say.”

4. AMERICA (UNSUCCESSFULLY) TRIED TO ADAPT THE SHOW.

In 2009, James Burrows directed a U.S. version of the show, which was set in L.A. It starred Kathryn Hahn as Edina, Kristen Johnston as Patsy, and Zosia Mamet as Saffy. Fox jettisoned the pilot, and Jon Plowman, executive producer of British Ab Fab, knew why. “The trouble with doing Ab Fab in America is that it will have to end with Edina and Saffy hugging, Patsy giving up drink and drugs, and them all hugging mum,” he said. “It won’t work. It’ll be too nice.”

5. THE SHOW WAS INFLUENCED BY THE BAND BANANARAMA.

Lumley and Saunders were guests on The Graham Norton Show and Lumley said in the ’80s, she and Dawn French used to party with the group. “Bananarama were the hardest drinking girls I’d ever met in the ’80s,” Saunders said. “I never met girls who drunk so hard. They drunk so much vodka. I remember one of them opening a cab door and coming out ass first, and I thought it most brilliant thing I’d ever seen.”  

6. SAUNDERS SAID IT WAS "PAINFUL" TO PORTRAY EDINA.

Edina wears clothing that are two sizes too small because she refuses to wear anything that fits her. “Edina gets to wear some extraordinary costumes but they’re always so painful,” Saunders told Elle. “When I think of Edina, I think of painful shoes and painful clothes.”

7. IT’S A FEMINIST SHOW.

“It’s never been about them finding a relationship, or defining themselves by having to have a man,” Saunders told Vanity Fair. “They live life entirely on their own terms as women, and to be honest, men don’t really affect them much. I mean, occasionally they want sex, but who doesn’t? They’re not defined by normality. They create their own normality.”

8. JULIA SAWALHA’S FAVORITE SCENE TO FILM INVOLVED BOMBAY MIX.

BuzzFeed asked Sawalha, who played Edina’s daughter, what the funniest scene she had to shoot was. She said it was the moment when Edina asked her if she wanted to nibble on some Bombay mix. “It was my most painful scene moment,” she said. “It took about half an hour, because she had to come up behind me and say [puts on accent] ‘Bombay mix.’ And for a week she did it and for a week in rehearsals I couldn’t hold it together, and on the night it had that thing of I know it’s coming, and it just went on and on and on.”

9. A MENTION OF IVANA TRUMP LED TO AN ENCOUNTER WITH DONALD TRUMP.

Twenty years ago, Patsy mentioned Ivana Trump in an episode. As Lumley told Vanity Fair, Trump got wind of it and invited Lumley to a party in London. “He was with Marla Maples then, and first she came and was the sweetest little character: ‘Oh, I think you’re so gorgeous, you look so beautiful,’” Lumley said. “And then the Donald came along, with that Brillo Pad hair stretched across his head, and gave me a very odd look, as if he was sizing up a horse or something. And after examining me, he muttered, ‘Yes, she’s quite good-looking, she’s a bit like Ivana.’”

10. SAUNDERS AND LUMLEY ACCIDENTALLY MADE PATSY AND EDINA RELATABLE.


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In an interview with Lena Dunham, Lumley stated that Edina and Patsy were “really vile and dreadful” people. However, Lumley had fans coming up to her saying the characters reminded them of people they knew. “And some people would queue up to say, ‘My mother and my aunt are just like you and Eddy, and this is a picture of them.’ And you go, ‘Oh, no, how great. Well done, you. But oh my God, we are awful.’ And they went, ‘Oh, yeah, they love it. They go out, they get drunk.’ And you go, ‘Oh my God, we weren’t trying to teach people to get drunk.’”

Lumley further explained they didn’t set out to do that. “I don’t think we had expected that, because we painted them with such broad brushstrokes. We were trying to be high satire.”

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