***1/2 (out of 5)
August 25, 2006
Jay Chandrasekhar as BARRY
Kevin Heffernan as LANDFILL
Steve Lemme as FINK
Paul Soter as JAN WOLFHOUSE
Erik Stolhanske as TODD WOLFHOUSE
Jürgen Prochnow as BARON
Cloris Leachman as GREAT GAM
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Okay, imagine “Fight Club.” Now add beer.
That’s gotta be the line that Broken Lizard used to pitch this film. And I can’t believe that a studio fell for it? Of course, if you’ve got the guys behind “Super Troopers,” you might have a hit. (Most likely, though, “Beerfest” will have a modest showing for its budget in the cinema and become a mega hit on DVD as college kids around the country play beer games while they watch it.)
I was never a big drinker in college, for two reasons. First, I was pretty chubby, so it took a lot more for me to get drunk than some 98-pound weakling. Second, it was expensive. When you could live on $20 a week eating ramen noodles, blowing $60 at the bar on a Friday night was beyond my limits.
Still, I can find a lot to laugh at in “Beerfest.” The reason it works is because it’s not all about drinking.
Well, it actually is all about drinking. But it’s funny in the process.
The movie tells the story of two brothers who stumble into a super-secret competition in Germany during Oktoberfest. As if there wasn’t enough drinking going on in Oktoberfest, the Germans have started “Beerfest,” an underground drinking competition in which countries compete in a series of drinking games. Familiar stand-bys like Quarters, Thumper and Beer Pong are the events.
The two brothers are disgraced and vow to come back the following year to win Beerfest. They head home to the states to recruit a team of drinkers, spend months training and eventually go head-to-head with the best drinkers in the world.
Like last week’s “Snakes on a Plane,” I don’t think there’s going to be anyone going to see “Beerfest” who’ll be surprised at the film. With the title, and the names Broken Lizard and Super Troopers on the poster, you should know what you’re in for.
It’s not a film I’m going to take my grandmother to, but it is fun to watch in the right audience. There’s plenty of low-brow humor, sexual innuendo and gaseous excretions to go around. In some scenes, most notably one where one character is milking a frog for artificial insemination, the boundaries of good tastes are pushed pretty hard. But then again, what do you expect from Broken Lizard?
I will say that I am happy to see director Jay Chandrasekhar coming back to his extreme comedy roots. While his last film, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” was decent in its own right, it isn’t his calling. Movies like “Beerfest” with jokes about burping, farting and male prostitution are his art.
A final kudos goes to Broken Lizard with this film for plowing through an R rating and never looking back. With a name like “Beerfest,” it just doesn’t make sense to make it PG-13, so I don’t think they even tried. There’s plenty of rude humor, and the nudity you’re warned about in the MPAA logo isn’t some chubby guy’s hair butt cheeks. Trust me, if you like this sort of thing, “Beerfest” is worth a shot.