For two weeks in a row now, I'm encouraging the viewing of a motion picture in a not entirely sober state of mind. However, when you call your movie Beerfest, it's pretty hard not to draw the comparison. In fact, it's almost challenging you NOT to drink while you watch it. And it's a damn hard challenge.
Beerfest is the latest fillm from the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, who have brought us Puddle Cruiser, Club Dread, and their biggest claim to cult fame Super Troopers. (They were also partially responsible for last year's Dukes of Hazzard movie, with
Jay Chandrasekhar directing, and all five lizards contributing to the script, but it wasn't a full Lizard production). This time, the fellas tackle something that seems so natural: Drinking games. Yes, the art of the drinking game is met with the underground ferocity of a fight club to become the movie you see before you: Beerfest.
The movie opens with Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) as they return the ashes of their recently deceased beer loving grandfather (Donald Sutherland, of all people) from Colorado to Germany. For Oktoberfest. Once they get to Germany, they stumble upon an underground beer drinking competition, full of all sorts of drinking games, but taken to the greatest level of competition: Beerfest! (Title). Jan and Paul meet their Bavarian cousins, who represent the German Beerfest team. Naturally, our heroes are humiliated, and flee back to the states with their tails between their legs.
Once back home, the boys concoct a plan to put together their own team to defeat the Germans in next year's competition. They pick up Steve "Fink" Finklestein (Steve Lemme), the beer nerd; "Landfil" (Kevin "Farva" Heffernan), beer drinker extraordinaire; and Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar), an expert at all beer games, especially quarters. The movie follows the motley crew through many grueling beer drinking exercises, leading up to the big showdown.
It's a sports movie for a sport that doesn't exist, but damn is it funny. The Broken Lizard guys always have a nice layer to their comedy. They excel at sight gags and frat humor, but they also have a lot of smarter, quieter and subtler jokes happening, that a lot of the time are missed. And the gags are pretty much nonstop in this film. If there's something you don't find funny, wait ten seconds. I wish I could tell some of the funny things in the film, but I can't. It will take away the surprise. I will say that two of my favorite moments occurred in the "Day after" sequence from the first day of training. Actually, three moments happened in that sequence. See? It's too much comedy for one motion picture.
In addition to the lizards, there are plenty of funny people scattered throughout. Cloris Leachman as the Wolfhouse Gram Gram gets to be filthy and hilarious all at the same time. Jurgen Prochnow (from Das Boot) lightens up, but doesn't play his role as a complete idiot, as the leader of the German team. And Will Forte (from SNL), Eric Christian Olsen (From Dumb and Dumberer) and Nat Faxon (from Club Dread) are downright brilliant as the German team. Too damn funny. Most everyone in this film is hilarious, and it shows. For once it feels like everyone making the movie is having as good a time as the audience seeing it. (Which is far more rare than you'd think).
Quick digression: I used to have a roommate named Bill, and bill had one of the greatest laughs of all time. Granted, it was easy to make him laugh by simply yelling the word "BALLS!" to him. (This proved outright hilarious to him, no matter what time of day you did it, even if it was 4:30 in the morning and he had to get up for work in an hour). But you knew something was downright genius when he busted out the great laugh. Now, I live in California, and Bill lives in New Jersey, but there were things in this movie so funny that I swear I could have heard him laughing across the country. It has the Bill seal of approval, and that should be enough for you right there.
It's a movie called Beerfest, it's not exactly a movie trying to solve the world's problems. It's there to make you laugh, play some loud music, revel in a bit of raunchiness and unexpected nudity (the gratuitous bit at Oktoberfest is well done, considering how random it is) and it succeeds. It may try a little to hard at points, but there are at least ten laugh out loud, "holy crap that's funny" moments in the film. Things that make you lose control of bodily functions, which is fitting for the film. There is a fair amount of frat humor involved, but like I say, they work the spectrum. Ranking the Lizard films, this comes in just slightly under Super Troopers. It's that entertaining.
A word of warning: It will make you want a beer. Please don't drink and drive. But if you can, beer will just make it that much more enjoyable. If this movie fails theatrically, fear not. This film will live a long happy life on college dorms for YEARS to come.