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"Beerfest"

Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.
Written by Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske).
Starring all of the above, plus Mo'Nique, Cloris Leachman, and Jürgen Prochnow.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  8/24/06

Folks--

There was a freebie near my apartment for "Beerfest" this week, so since I don't have anything resembling a life, I rolled over to the theater to check this out.  I have not seen any of the other Broken Lizard productions ("Super Troopers" and "Club Dread"), but I know that the few people that have seen both of those movies swear by them, solidifying their cult status amongst the people.

"Beerfest" is the biggest Broken Lizard production so far; the trailer is pretty funny, but I was worried that this one-trick pony might not be a good film.

WAY wrong.

Sure, it's nasty--just fucking vile at times, it's so wrong in various sequences--but "Beerfest" gets fantastic mileage out of its five lead characters, gratuitous nudity, a strong main plot (underground Olympics in Germany based solely around beer games) and tried-and-true ideas like morning-after humor (relating both to sex AND getting totally trashed at a house party), crass double entendres and European bad guys.  It's not an instant classic, but there are so many funny bits that I am having a hard time remembering them all just two days later.

Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske), brothers and heirs to the great Wolfhouse family fortune--uh, this only includes the family restaurant/bar--go to Munich to spread the ashes of their recently-deceased grandfather (Donald Sutherland).  On their trip, they stop through Oktoberfest...and, while there, they are led to an underground tournament run by proprietor Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen (Jürgen Prochnow)--five-man teams representing every major country in the world are competing in drinking games to decide the world's greatest booze-swilling domain.  Naturally, the Germans are the top dogs...and, after Jan and Todd discover the tournament (and the strange fact that there is no American team), they go out to find three teammates who can train for a year to be ready for next year's competition.  The teammates include a ex-con/hot-dog eating champion (Kevin Heffernan), a scientist (Steve Lemme) and a down-on-his-luck male hooker (Jay Chandrasekhar)...and, over the course of a year, the five men come together to train and compete for the world's greatest/strangest championship.

"Beerfest" gets a slow start but once it starts rolling, wow, was I rolling along with it.  There is so much wrong shit in this movie that I couldn't list it all here even if I could remember it all, but between frogs getting jerked off, ping-pong paddle rape jokes and the ex-con winning the eating contest over a group that only included Asians, people in my theater were strangely in love with some of this humor.  Sure, some of the laughs are straight-up, but "Beerfest" seems to fall in love with some of the styles of 1980s comedies, raunch-for-the-sake-of-raunch films like "Meatballs", "Porky's" and others.  It works, although I honestly still don't know how or why it worked.

The cast is great; our five main characters clearly have the chemistry down pat, as they have worked together before...and, our supporting characters just embrace this, with the German five-man team maybe embracing this the best.  Prochnow has been diving into a pool of shit for years now (lots of straight-to-video movies and TV, mixed in with a large part in "House of the Dead"), but he seems alive at 65 years old in "Beerfest"; Cloris Leachman, who I don't remember being lowbrow, is dragging herself through the shitter in this film as Jan & Todd's grandmother, but she's pretty funny...even Sutherland belches onscreen three or four times before dying in the film's intro.  And, is that Willie Nelson in a cameo, too?  Good stuff.

The film's gross-out quotient does get to you after a while; every so often, it does make you squirm a bit, and not in a good way.  And like I said, it gets off to a bit of a slow start.  But otherwise, "Beerfest" kept my packed-house audience pretty happy throughout the night...check this one out if you've got the stomach for it.

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09