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Beerfest (2006)

28 September 2006 by Baldy One Comment

BEERFEST


2006, dir. Jay Chandrasekhar
110 min., Rated R.
Starring: Broken Lizard, Cloris Leachman, Jurgen Prochnow, Schnitzengiggle.

Review by Baldy

Lately, I haven’t watched television. I haven’t gotten to browse around movie sites on the internet. I haven’t even really gotten to shoot the bull with friends, all of whom know more about upcoming movies than I do. When I heard that Broken Lizard had a new movie coming out, and then I saw the preview, I was ALL OVER IT.






No, that’s not the lawyer from the Usual Suspects.

I’ve had some mixed reactions to films created by the comedy troupe Broken Lizard. The first that I saw was the phenomenal Super Troopers. I’ve seen it about a dozen times. I’ve found like-minded fans accidentally when I go to the drive-thru window at the BK Lounge and order a Large Farva. It’s astoundingly quotable, and is as fun when sober or sloppy drunk. When I heard that Broken Lizard had a new horror film ripoff called Club Dread coming out, I was all over it. It fell flat. It was a neat idea, but didn’t have anywhere near the smooth flow or fun elements of Super Troopers. For my birthday, my buddy Chris bought me a copy of Broken Lizard’s first effort, a college comedy called Puddle Cruiser. I watched it while folding laundry. It was okay. It was nowhere near as funny as even Club Dread, but I cut them some slack – it was their first try. Beerfest, though. . . it just looked like they were back in their grand old form. While my lovely wife took our boys in to see Cars, I stepped aside to watch something more appropriate for me.

First, though. . . PREVIEWS!

Let’s Go to Prison – Dax Shepard is a career criminal who winds up sharing a cell with a rich guy. Looks fun, even if it is only going to be a re-hash of every bad prison joke ever made. I’ll rent it, probably, or check it out with Chris at the dollar movie.
The Prestige – Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play rival magicians (it’s some kind of period piece) and one of them apparently starts doing it for real. Casting is good. It also has Michael Caine (of the Caine-Hackman theory) and Scarlett Johanssen. LOTR fans who are having DTs will get to see Andy Serkis. This looks to be really interesting, and may turn out to be good. I’ll try to catch this one on the big screen. Chris Nolan is at the helm, so it’s already better than most of what’s out there.
The Marine – This is a 1980s action flick. I must see it, but it’ll be a rental.
Gridiron Gang – Well, it’s already out and doing well at the box office. The Rock in a prison football movie. It looks like a serious version of The Longest Yard. I’ll probably take my football-lovin’ wife to see it at the dollar movie.
The Fountain – This is one that I’m eagerly awaiting. I’m a fan of Darren Aronofsky, and this just looks stunning. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star as Ponce deLeon/Tom Verde and Queen Isabel/Izzy in a romance that spans 1000 years. The preview is what caught me, though. It just looks astounding. Big screen, definitely.
The Departed – Martin Scorsese seems to have done it again. He did a funny crime drama with Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin. . . holy shit. Would SOMEONE please give this guy an Oscar, already?!

BEERFEST!

The basic idea is simple. Two brothers (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske)attend the funeral of their father, in which his living will instructs them to dispose of his ashes during a festival in Germany, the family’s ancestral home. The father (played ridiculously by Donald Sutherland) then says, “Say goodnight, PoPo” and pulls the plug on his respirator. They go to Germany and find Octoberfest. Underneath the town, though, is where the REAL action is. Countries from around the world send their greatest drinkers to BeerFest! Like the Olympics, there are multiple events: volume chug, quarters, upside-down drinking, Das Boot, and more. The two Americans are made fools of by the German team and go home, determined to put together the greatest drinking team in the world. They pick up Steve Finklestein (Steve Lemme), a nerd friend from childhood who knows everything in the world about science. . . but who is making a living by manually procuring semen from frogs. They find eating champion Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), who can handle more beer than the entire nation of Lesotho. Finally, they track down Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar): once the undisputed champion of drinking games, now offering to touch his own ass for a dollar in the seedy section of town.

The team trains – God, what a job that must have been – and goes to Germany to restore their honor.

Good premise. It’s simple, lighthearted and offers lots of opportunities for funny. So did Club Dread, but THIS time they made good on it.

This movie was a blast! It wasn’t uproariously funny, but I laughed out loud plenty of times. I think what did it for me is that these guys were completely back in their own element. I mean, what bunch of college buddies would pass up on a chance to make a movie about drinking beer?

What director Chandrasekhar did so well in this movie (and so poorly in The Dukes of Hazzard) was pay homage to what has come before. What was awkward and ungainly in Dukes works much better in this kind of format. As the Germans are training for BeerFest – using high tech equipment and performance metrics and scientists – our heroes are playing drinking games and hitting the bars and having a blast. The training montage is torn straight from Rocky IV, and it works. The scene in which the brothers accidentally ruin Octoberfest is reminiscent of the great sex comedies of the early 1980s: pratfalls, girls falling and pulling the shirts off of other girls as they drop, puking. . . you know, all of the good stuff that is usually missing from movies these days. Jurgen Prochnow even takes part in a goofy U-Boat scene, which prompts him to remark, “I had a bad experience in one of these, once.” In one of the greatest tributes to 1980s filmmaking (and we all know how great that was), team member Landfill is killed. Then, his brother Gil (also played by Heffernan) shows up. He can drink as well as Landfill. He looks identical. He even asks them to call HIM Landfill, in memory of his brother. At this, someone says knowingly, “It’s almost like Landfill didn’t die at all!” I had to chuckle. Even the single-elimination tournament format is a bow to most of the Jean-Claude flicks from earlier years (when he didn’t go straight to video).

What can I say? It’s FUN. Cloris Leachman plays the grandmother, and she’s phenomenal. The German team is fun in an effete, muscle-bound kind of way. Watching the national stereotypes facing off against each other was a trip. There’s a great fight over an open vat of beer involving two rather weighty individuals, but it’s not sumo – it’s kung fu. If you’ve never seen a huge person doing kung fu, that would be another great reason to see this movie. There are laughs and beer and naked women and pot smoking and fighting and making fun of Germany. What more could you want in a movie?

Go see it, and bring your flask.

RELATED LINKS:
Super Troopers
Broken Lizard’s Club Dread
Baseketball

One Comment »

  • Ktig said:

    This wasn’t funny I sat on the sofa just squinting from the lower mentality yes it wasn’t intended for smart people but It’s a frat movie and it sucks

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