Beerfest (2006) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity, and substance abuse
Running Time: 110 min.
Cast: Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Kevin Hefferman, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme, Cloris Leachman, Jurgen Prochnow, Will Forte, Eric Christian Olsen, Mo'Nique, M.C. Gainey (cameo), Donald Sutherland (cameo)
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Screenplay: Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Hefferman, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Eric Stolhanske)
Review published September 9, 2006
The funniest line of Beerfest doesn't even come during the film itself. Read the bottom of the theatrically released poster and you'll find this gem:
There are certain words that have diminished in power over the years through excessive or improper usage. Perhaps there is no better example of this in the English language than "genius" if we are to start using it in reference to the overhyped comedy team called Broken Lizard. To a secondary degree, I have to also chuckle at the use of the word "phenomenon" as applied to Super Troopers, a film that grossed approximately $18 million in the United States, vanishing from theaters almost completely after three weeks of release. By comparison, the critically maligned Britney Spears film Crossroads (released the same year) made over twice that much. I guess she is beyond a label such as "genius". Apparently, the public must have remained unaware of their genius; Broken Lizard's previous film, Club Dread, grossed less than $5 million domestically.
Needless to say, I haven't really seen anything in their brand of comedy that suggests these guys are anything more than passably amusing. If anything, they are funnier comedic actors than they are writers, as most of their comedies rely far too much on old stereotypes and frat boy hijinks than in anything truly clever or original. Beerfest certainly marks their third straight effort that falls far short of the mark to making "Broken Lizard" the household name their marketers think they are.
The story: brothers Jan (Soter) and Todd Wolfhouse (Stolhanske) travel to Germany to deposit their recently deceased German grandfather's ashes where they discover an underground party called "Beerfest", which has become a sort of Olympics competition for beer drinkers. While there, they are humiliated by the German team, who just so happen to be their long-lost cousins, the Von Wolfhausen clan, who proceed to call their mother a whore and their father a thief who had stolen the secret recipe for the world's best beer.
Shaken from the event, Jan and Todd vow to return and give the Von Wolfhausens their just desserts. They proceed to court their best drinking buddies to put together a superteam of beer guzzlers that should give the Germans a proper ass-whipping, but when fears and calamities threaten to break up the group, the boys look like they might be on the verge of becoming a laughing stock at Beerfest for a second straight year.
Although it's been over a decade since Broken Lizard first formed their comedy troupe back in their college days, it seems they still haven't outgrown their college-centric mentalities. Back in one's early twenties, such things as non-stop drinking binges, semi-nude women, and public displays of crudeness are all it really took to get people giggling and screaming. These sorts of hot buttons for easy titillation are all they seem to be able to press, as Beerfest does very little outside of showing senseless acts of debauchery. Perhaps if you're of the mentality where you shout out, "Beeeeer! YEEAAAHH!!!! BEEEEE-eee---eee---(hic)----EERR" when someone brings out a keg, or "uhhh...oooohh...DAAAAMN!" anytime a hot female enters the room, you're probably at the right maturity level to be completely enthralled by the redundant party atmosphere that Beerfest delivers.
Unfortunately, babes, bongs and beers might be funny to a young adult just learning what all those things are, but that sort of thing doesn't really make them funny in and of themselves. It's only the fact that they aren't usually shown that makes these things humorous to some people. Crude gags and sexual humor are easy; these things are almost taboo in one's daily public existence, which makes them "funny" when they are shown without inhibition. The problem is that, while seeing someone act totally F'd up might get laughs from those that haven't really seen that sort of thing, or those reminiscing about "that one time" they also did something that stupid, in terms of true humor value, their worth is virtually inconsequential. It doesn't take much brain power to show men guzzling beer, acting stupid, and being rude. I guess when you don't have anything truly clever or inspired to deliver, you might as well get some cheap laughs.
While getting shit-faced and losing all inhibitions with your friends might be a fun thing to do, I really don't understand why anyone would find it as fun to watch, unless they are doing so in an already inebriated state where just about anything crude and lewd is funny. The only brand of humor other than beer and sex comes through some played-out stereotypes of Germans, Jews, Brits, and other nationalities, although with these guys as our ambassadors, they unintentionally make fun of Americans the most.
Beerfest is the kind of film that will probably play better on DVD than at the theater, where one can pause it or turn it off after having his fill of drunken idiocy. At a lengthy 110 minutes, the humor gets very old very quickly when taking it all in at once; some people would rightfully mock the title as "Borefest". If you're going into the film stupefied from a night of drinking, you'll probably get the laughs, but once the buzz of the beer wears off, so too will the buzz of the movie. If there's ever a movie that can give you a hangover just from rampant imbecility, this is the one.
©2006 Vince Leo