Weekend at Bernie's

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For the 2006 album by The Queers, see Weekend at Bernie's (album).
Weekend at Bernie's
Weekend at Bernies.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Produced by Victor Drai
Written by Robert Klane
Starring Andrew McCarthy
Jonathan Silverman
Catherine Mary Stewart
Terry Kiser
Music by Andy Summers
Cinematography François Protat
Edited by Joan E. Chapman
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 5, 1989 (1989-07-05)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $30,218,387

Weekend at Bernie's is a 1989 American dark comedy film written by Robert Klane and directed by Ted Kotcheff. The film stars Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman as young insurance corporation employees who discover their boss, Bernie, is deceased. Discovering that Bernie ordered their deaths to cover up his embezzlement with orders to not kill them if he is around, they attempt to convince people that Bernie is still alive. The film was released three times on DVD; once from Artisan Entertainment in 1998, and twice by MGM in 2005 and 2011. MGM released the film for the first time on Blu-ray on May 6, 2014.


Larry Wilson (McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Silverman) are two low-level financial employees at an insurance corporation in New York City. Larry is laid-back, while Richard struggles to be at ease with women. While going over actuarial reports, the earnest Richard discovers mismatched payments. Richard and Larry take their findings to the CEO Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), who commends them for discovering insurance fraud and invites them to his Hamptons island beach house for the weekend. Unbeknownst to Larry and Richard, Bernie is behind the fraud and nervously arranges with his mob partners to have them both killed that weekend and arrange it as a murder-suicide. However, the gangsters double-cross Bernie and decide to have him killed instead, citing his reckless greed and his affair with the mob boss Vito's girlfriend as the motivation.

Bernie arrives at the island before Larry and Richard and speaks to the appointed hitman Paulie (Don Calfa) on the phone, to plan out the murders and establish an alibi, unaware that the conversation is being recorded on Bernie's answering machine, as he picked up the phone haphazardly. Bernie then writes a confession and plants cash implicating Larry and Richard in the insurance fraud. Paulie arrives, kills Bernie by injecting poison in his buttocks, then planting heroin on him to make it appear as a drug overdose. When Larry and Richard arrive at the beach house, they find their boss dead. Before they can call the police, however, guests arrive for a party that passes through Bernie's house every weekend. To Larry's and Richard's amazement, they are all too engrossed in their own partying to notice that their host is deceased, with Bernie's dark sunglasses and dopey grin from the fatal injection concealing his lifeless state.

Fearing they will be implicated in their boss's death, Larry proposes that he and Richard maintain the facade, a notion that Richard finds absurd. Only the arrival of Richard's office crush, Gwen Saunders (Catherine Mary Stewart), convinces him to postpone notifying the police. After the party, Richard and Gwen enjoy a romantic walk on the beach, but Bernie's body ends up being carried out by the tide and washes up next to them, prompting Richard to go back to the house and conscript Larry into retrieving the corpse.

Vito's girlfriend Tina arrives at the house, convinced that Bernie has been cheating on her. She threatens Larry and Richard with a knife and they direct her to the bedroom, but she also fails to realize that he is dead. At that moment, another man from Vito's gang witnesses the two of them apparently making love. Fooled into thinking that Bernie's assassination failed, he notifies Vito, who orders Paulie back to finish the job.

The next morning, Richard is appalled to discover that Larry is maintaining the illusion that Bernie is alive by manipulating his corpse. The two bicker about alerting the police until Richard attempts to call the police himself but instead accidentally activates the phone message detailing the plot against them. They then realize that alerting the police will implicate them. Unaware of the circumstances of Bernie's death, they mistakenly believe that they are still the targets of a mob hit, and decide to use Bernie's corpse as a prop for protection. Paulie, in the meantime, has returned to the island and throttles Bernie's corpse.

The two make various attempts to leave the island, but Bernie's body becomes repeatedly misplaced and recovered in the process. They attempt to board the mainland ferry with Bernie in tow, but are too late to board; Paulie, unfortunately, sees them and assumes that Bernie has somehow survived.

An ill-fated attempt to use Bernie's speedboat results in numerous mishaps: Larry pulls away without first untying the boat, Richard falls overboard, and a tied-up Bernie topples from the boat and smashes into several buoys as he is dragged along the water. Finally, the boat runs out of fuel and Larry and Richard are forced to float back to shore on Bernie's body. Meanwhile Paulie, unhinged at the inexplicable "immortality" of Bernie, returns to the island.

At the house, Gwen confronts Larry and Richard, who confess that Bernie has been dead since their arrival. At that moment, Paulie suddenly appears and empties a pistol into Bernie's chest, then turns his attention to Larry, Richard and Gwen. The three take refuge in different parts of the house as Paulie chases after them, until Larry takes advantage and clumsily subdues him with a phone cord and a punch.

The police eventually arrive to place Paulie under arrest for first-degree murder, carting him off in a straitjacket as he continues to insist Bernie is still alive. The film ends with Bernie being loaded into an ambulance. However, his gurney rolls away and topples off the boardwalk, dumping him onto the beach right behind Richard, Larry and Gwen who run off after noticing him. Eventually, a young boy comes along and starts to play by scooping buckets of sand over his body.



Though the film was not a critical success, holding only a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[2] it was still a cultural icon as well as a financial success, grossing US$30 million at the box office, and was profitable on home video.[3][4]


The film's commercial success spawned a 1993 sequel, Weekend at Bernie's II.


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