Has there been one laugh-out-loud comedy
, with the exception of Ricky Bobby
, this summer? The excellent Little Miss Sunshine
was more of a drama
, though Abigail Breslin
’s pageant finale was hilarious. The Break-Up
, with its force feeding of wacky characters, was terrible. Scoop
felt too much like a compilation of Woody Allen
’s not-so greatest hits. Clerks II
had its moments, but it lacked the spontaneity and rawness that made the first one so great. Poseidon
was funny for all the wrong reasons.
Now enter Beerfest, the newest comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. It’s not nearly as funny as Super Troopers, but it’s not nearly as atrocious as the laugh-empty Club Dread. In this dead season of laughs, that makes Beerfest almost a rousing success. Article continues below
The plot follows two American brothers (Erik Stolhanske
, Paul Soter
) who, in delivering their grandfather’s ashes to Germany, stumble upon an underground, international beer drinking competition called Beerfest. They meet their German cousins, professional drinkers full of hops and hatred. They insult the grandfather and drink the Americans under the table, leading to one long plane ride to Colorado. Their depression is short-lived as they decide to assemble a squad to rival the German drinkers, including a male prostitute who's a whiz at quarters (Jay Chandrasekhar
, the movie’s director) and a hot dog eating champion known as “Landfill” (Kevin Heffernan
Together with a nerdy, overtly Jewish scientist (Steve Lemme
, always sporting a yarmulke), the five men spend a year draining kegs, drinking ram’s piss (to better build their tolerance for beer, you see), and crashing house parties all to prepare for the event. The stakes get higher when a cherished beer recipe and hurt feelings enter the equation. Can the men overcome these odds?
Well, yeah. Broken Lizard doesn’t answer tough questions, though the movie has more of a satirical bent than Super Troopers, as it tweaks America’s ability to turn anything into popular sport (think: dodgeball, poker, spelling bees, et al.). Seriously, with the American public willing to watch anything once, is it unrealistic to think that we’ll see “Turbo Quarters” and “Monkey Chug” on ESPN2 late night in a few years? And there are a handful of very funny scenes, such as when a hung over Chandrasekhar awakens naked next to a dead deer, and when a funeral for a friend becomes an improbable rallying cry for the U.S. team.
Outside of the five men’s struggle to make America a boozy champion, the movie’s attempts to get laughs fail. Cloris Leachman
plays her 800th crazy lady; the German team is portrayed as a pack of braying efficiency experts; and peeing jokes peaked with Leslie Nielsen
’s marathon whiz in The Naked Gun. Ultimately, Beerfest provides us with enough laughs to keep us entertained. Consider that an endorsement or a sign to wait for Judd Apatow
’s next movie.