Moose tracks lead to Bob and Doug, eh?
By Susan Wloszczyna, USA TODAY
Parents who catch Disney’s Brother Bear when the animated feature opens wide Saturday might find that the bickersome moose brothers who amble through the Pacific Northwest adventure sound awfully familiar.
And, no, they aren’t related to Bullwinkle. The antlered duo of Rutt and Tuke are voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, creators of the flannel-shirted, beer-imbibing buffoons Bob and Doug McKenzie. The proletariat pair, who were born in 1980 as part of Canadian-bred skit show SCTV, parodied such national food concerns as back bacon and doughnuts and popularized catchphrases like “Take off, you hoser” and “Eh?” (Canadian for “you know?”) on their “Great White North” segment.
Moranis and Thomas later parlayed their McKenzie fame into multimedia fool’s gold, including a 1983 cult classic that combined Hamlet and ale, Strange Brew; a best-selling comedy album; and ads for Pizza Hut and Jiffy Lube. But this is the first time the doltish duo has impersonated wild animals. At least intentionally.
It’s as good of an occasion as any to catch up with New York-based Moranis, 49, star of such films as Little Shop of Horrors and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Thomas, 55, an L.A. resident who appeared on the sitcom Grace Under Fire.
Q: The last time you probably did Bob and Doug was for Molson beer commercials in 1997.
Moranis: We could have built a special theater in Vegas for ourselves, but we would have gotten tired of them. By living 3,000 miles apart, we stay friends.
Q: Did Molson pay you in beer? Thomas: They sent us six cases a month that we didn’t ask for. I’m not a big beer drinker, and it would stack up. I used to give it to the handyman as a tip.
Q: Did Disney give you any special gifts?
Thomas: They gave us manquettes (models) of our characters. We had to sign something saying we wouldn’t sell it on eBay.
Moranis: I sold them out of the back of my car, instead.
Q: Bob and Doug were spawned as a subversive way to meet the Canadian government’s requirement of having a certain amount of Canadian content on TV and radio. Do they still have the rules?
Moranis: They still do. The restrictions were more exaggerated in the beginning. With music, if the recording was made in Canada or the artist, producer, lyricist or composer were Canadian, it would qualify. Galt MacDermot, who wrote the music for Hair, was Canadian. So the songs from Hair were always on the radio.
Thomas: Canada has a national inferiority complex. It isn’t enough that the whole cast and crew are Canadian. You have to make specific Canadian references. No wonder they flock to American TV.
Q: Did you agree right away to speak for moose, or were you holding out to be bears?
Thomas: Supporting character roles are forever. Leads come and go.
Q: Was it nice to revisit the McKenzies and be able to introduce them to younger generations? Do you ever tire of them?
Moranis: The essence of these characters is to fly by the seats of our pants. Having Dave in my headphones doing the character is no different from having phone conversations. We don’t get tired of it. It’s like getting tired of fun. Thomas: The directors gave us a lot of latitude. We didn’t specifically give them the McKenzies. We adapted them to moose talk, like saying, “Trample off, you hoofer.”
Q: The financing for a Strange Brew sequel fell through. But is it true you are planning to do an animated feature based on the McKenzies?
Thomas: We are working on it right now. It will probably be released direct to video.
Q: “Tuke” refers to tuque, the knit ski caps the McKenzies wear. Why the spelling change?
Thomas: Americans freak over the “que” spelling. They would think it was a French movie.
Q: Is Rutt a dirty moose term?
Moranis: (Silence, then ) I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with rooting.
Q: If Rutt and Tuke rumbled with fellow cartoon animal sidekicks Pumbaa and Timon from The Lion King, who would win the fight?
Moranis: I guess it would depend on whether any agents were involved in that deal.
Moose tracks lead to Bob and Doug, eh?