Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.
Release Date: August 25th, 2006 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar Actors: Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Cloris Leachman, Jurgen Prochnow, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Jay Chandrasekhar, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Nat Faxon
nly the gang behind “Super Troopers” and “Club Dread” could create as obnoxiously silly and immensely immature an experience as “Beerfest.” For a shallow farce about drinking beer, its length of almost two hours hinders any comedic consistency, as the worthwhile laughs can’t come nearly as often as they should. Although its faults almost certainly outweigh its triumphs, it does work on several levels; of course, these levels increase exponentially the more intoxicated the viewer happens to be.
The only substance in the plot is the substance abuse, but surely no one will approach a Broken Lizard production with a title like “Beerfest” and expect Hemingway. The film opens with a funeral scene and an odd cameo by Donald Sutherland as Grandpa Wolfhouse. Upon the insistence of Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman), the two grandchildren Todd (Erik Stolhanske) and Jan (Paul Soter) must travel to Munich to dispose of his ashes. Once there, they encounter the evil Baron Wolfgang Von Wolfhausen (Jürgen Prochnow) and his secretive “Fight Club” of alcohol-drinking competitions, dubbed “Beerfest.” The Wolfhouse brothers are soon disgraced by the German team but, upon returning home, decide to defend their honor (as well as their grandparents’ honor) by forming an American team to compete in following year’s event. Recruiting three misfit friends, they set about training – by imbibing lethal amounts of ale, practicing drinking games at parties, and consuming ram urine. From there, this “team sport” buddy comedy proceeds, unfortunately, exactly as expected.
“Beerfest” narrows its target audience down to partying college kids, leaving little room for anyone else – save for diehard Broken Lizard fans (who are either also college-aged kids, or utterly nonexistent). It’s difficult to base an entire movie on as thin a plot as a beer-drinking contest – and it shows. For every clever, riotously funny moment, there is an equally dull and excruciatingly overused one. And for every effective gross-out gag, there is an intentionally bad and unintentionally exhaustive German accent. Of the recognizable five cast members that compose the comedy troupe, only Landfill (Kevin Heffernan) and Barry Badrinath (director Jay Chandrasekhar) leave a lasting impression (even if that impression lasts just a few minutes after the credits roll) – the former as a crude, loud-mouthed bottomless pit, and the latter as a crude, loud-mouthed miscreant. Each of the fivesome get their fair share of screentime, though some less deservedly than others. Thankfully, garnering less attention are the five villains on the German drinking team, who display the combined personality of a paper bag. And Mo’Nique’s supporting villainess Cherry is equally as uninspired.
The humor throughout ranges from frog masturbation to guzzling sheep piss to all manner of absurd swigging hijinks and the effects of heavy inebriation – including “beer goggles” and over-animated bodily functions. However, none of it can breach the category of extreme immaturity and jaw-dropping vulgarity. As goofy as Broken Lizard’s previous efforts may have been, the moderate originality of “Puddle Cruiser” or “Super Troopers” is all but lost on this rehashed, regurgitated concoction. It seems that with each new film, the writers stray further from adolescent innovation to plummet deeper into the depths of obscurity. Other than the obscene amount of brew consumption, the film sustains a rather languid “R” rating, as the language is minimal and the nudity disappointingly rare. Nothing about “Beerfest” pushes the envelope, stirs the imagination, or properly tickles the funnybone.
– Joel Massie