SCTV stars John Candy, Joe Flaherty, and Eugene Levy made this scattershot Canadian comedy the same year Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas brought their Great White North characters to STRANGE BREW.
GOING BERSERK, which was written by Dana Olsen (THE ‘BURBS) and director David Steinberg (PATERNITY), would likely had been much funnier had it been penned by its stars, who each won two Emmys for writing SCTV NETWORK 90 shows. Perhaps it wasn’t developed specifically for Candy, Levy, and Flaherty, who look lost.
The closest that GOING BERSERK gets to reminding fans of SCTV is a pair of parodies that would have probably been rejected by the show: a kung fu spoof (a dead horse after KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE’s brilliant “A Fistful of Yen”) and a meanspirited updating of FATHER KNOWS BEST (that features Elinor Donahue!). At least these setpieces break up the hamfisted plot, which stars Candy as John Bourgignon, who runs an unsuccessful limousine service with his best pal Chick Leff (Flaherty).
John’s impending marriage to Nancy (THE WONDER YEARS’ Alley Mills), the daughter of presidential candidate Ed Reese (Pat Hingle), is endangered by Reese’s nemesis, religious cultist/con artist Sun Yi Day (Richard Libertini). Day concocts a plan to brainwash John using a playing card and writhing aerobicizers into assassinating his new father-in-law on his wedding day.
GOING BERSERK’s major failure is a paucity of scenes of the SCTV actors together. Levy is sadly underused as a sleazy filmmaker named Salvatore DiPasquale, who hounds John to convince Reese to let him film the wedding. Flaherty is wasted in a straight part; he’s awkwardly included in one scene in which he literally does nothing but watch Hingle and Levy. Director David Steinberg, a standup comic with a Second City background, became a prolific TV director, but his work here is bad. His timing is haphazard, and he stages some sight gags out of camera range.
Candy survived this flop, moving on to scene-stealing supporting parts in SPLASH and VOLUNTEERS that turned him into one of the 1980s’ top comedy stars. Levy, also funny in SPLASH, joined Christopher Guest’s repertory company and acted in the first eight (!) AMERICAN PIE comedies. Flaherty starred in the ‘90s sitcoms MANIAC MANSION and POLICE ACADEMY: THE SERIES.