Review: Beerfest

Returning the ashes of their dead grandfather to Oktoberfest in Munich, brothers Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd (Erik Stolhanske) are mistakenly introduced to Beerfest, a "Fight Club"-style underground beer drinking game competition. Immediately spanked by the all-powerful German squad (including SNL's Will Forte and the grindingly unfunny Eric Christian Olsen), the boys return home looking to build the ultimate drinking lineup and return next year to redeem themselves. Armed with old boozehound friends Fink (Steve Lemme), Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), and Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar), the team is set, but the group struggles to regain the alcoholic assurance it once had.

Look out! It's "Man Show: The Movie."

By now, the name Broken Lizard attached to a picture should mean something, right? For better or worse, the personalities of the performers should've gelled by now, with each cast member playing to their distinct strengths. Yet, when I see Broken Lizard's name on a film, I know what's really coming: nap time.

This is the comedy troupe's fourth film. Actually the fifth, if you count last summer's "Dukes of Hazzard" abortion, but you rarely catch people admitting they've seen it. Unfortunately, if their cult hit "Super Troopers" hadn't taken off with college crowds, we wouldn't have to deal with them today. After their last official outing, the excruciatingly misguided and aptly titled "Club Dread," the Lizard have returned to their frat boy pandering ways with "Beerfest" (IMDb listing), a picture guaranteed to have a long, healthy shelf life at universities around America simply because it centers on drinking, breasts, and burping.

Continuing the theme of my earlier reviews of Lizard product, I still don't comprehend what makes this troupe funny. Unlike Monty Python or the Kids in the Hall, the members of Broken Lizard are nondescript, interchangeable, and have this unbearable need to underline and exclamation point every joke they attempt. Of course, it could be argued that any film titled "Beerfest" might not be a Venus Flytrap for subtlety, but I get the feeling watching this mess that the Lizard never quite grasped the idea of a nuanced gag. To them, it's not enough to have scientist Fink masturbate a frog; it must finish on his face for the joke to be properly buttoned. Or that the very idea of casting Jurgen Prochnow and placing him on a submarine set is worth a passing film geek chuckle, but to drive the reference home Prochnow must gesticulate wildly and wonder to himself if "he's been here before."

Over and over the broadly pitched humor in "Beerfest" fails to fly, relying on the limited means of the generic cast to make it jump off the page. This is a cartoon film, wallpapered with stereotype comedy (Steve Lemme, in amateur-hour makeup as the themed-yarmulke-wearing, German-hating Jew, comes the closest to out loud repulsion). Of course, in "Hazzard," director Jay Chandrasekhar thought blackface was a gut-busting jump-off for comedy, so I'm not too shocked that "Beerfest" dies when it sets aside ample time for the troupe to put on a show. These guys look like a bunch of accountants making movies on their smoke break, and "Beerfest" isn't made to please anybody but their fraternity brothers still chained to their Peter Pan Syndrome.

"Beerfest" is searching to please through the warm sentimentality of binge drinking. At a criminal 110 minutes, the Lizard tend to repeat themselves ad nauseam (hey look, a quarters gag ... again) when they aren't burning through pages and pages of exposition just to establish this threadbare madcap tale. Again, it's "Beerfest." It shouldn't take 20 minutes of screentime to get the ball rolling on what essentially becomes an electrical parade of Muppet-like overacting and nonstop belching. As long as "Strange Brew" still stands on any home entertainment format, there's no reason to even attempt another beer comedy.

Filmfodder Grade: D-

Did you have a ping pong paddle up your ass when you wrote this review? Beerfest obviously isn't "A" worthy, but giving it a D-? I'm sorry all films can't be of Superman caliber with never ending dialogue scenes and a plot that drags on for over 154 minutes. Maybe you should just head out the budget cinimas and watch Little Man again...

-- Posted by: Jason at August 25, 2006 3:00 PM

Well, LITTLE MAN is funnier than anything BEERFEST has to offer. Maybe you should take your own advice.

-- Posted by: Mark at August 25, 2006 5:59 PM

Did you just write "cinimas"???

And you're criticizing someone else on their taste in movies?

-- Posted by: Kendra Jade at August 25, 2006 6:06 PM

Oh, I'm sorry. Let me install the Google toolbar and spell check all my comments. Since you're attacking spelling, I'll attack your grammar.

"And you're criticizing someone else on their taste in movies?"

First off don't start sentences with "and". Second, it's not a question. Just because you put a question mark at the end doesn't make it a question.

If he can give his two cents why can't I?

-- Posted by: Jason at August 26, 2006 1:55 AM

Okay, we're done here. If you want to debate the movie, feel free. This isn't an English class.

-- Posted by: mac at August 26, 2006 11:37 AM

You're a projectionist, and you spelled it "cinimas."

Yet, you suggest Brian doesn't know what he's talking about.

Wow, That takes balls. Maybe you should investigate your own levels of taste and intelligence before you stomp around here shitting on a very well written review.

-- Posted by: Kendra Jade at August 26, 2006 5:16 PM

Did I ever say the review wasn't written well? No. People have different tastes in movies. Deal with it.

-- Posted by: Jason at August 27, 2006 10:35 AM

I haven't seen this movie yet but from Broken Lizard's past movies, I don't see how this movie could be any more than a C mines. Supertroopers, yeah, was funny but ddin't deserve any more than a C.

I'll wait until they show this movie on network television.

-- Posted by: Phil at August 27, 2006 5:31 PM

I dont agree with this review. You can watch any movie and, if you arent in the right mindset, hate it. Its like people saying that star wars was a little too immature.. well George Lucas was the first to say it was a childrens movie. Beerfest is a silly movie, and fun if youre open to it. It is not in any way a serious movie and it will never be considered a classic. But that review seemed to come from someone wanting to see the next hollywood blockbuster. you want subtle humor, watch monty python. If you dont have the patience to view the movie for what it was, rather than what you want, dont bother reviewing it. I know i should keep my opinion to myself but what can i say? I went to my friends house a few months back and a few of us sat around and watched it.. We laughed our butts off and had a good time. Thats really what its all about.

-- Posted by: Joel D at December 9, 2007 12:09 PM