“I’m better when I’m drunk,” says male whore Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar) while showing off his skills at Quarters during Beerfest, and the same likely holds true for the movie itself. The latest from comedy troupe Broken Lizard (and first not to feature their moniker in the title) is a giant bucket of boozy goofiness, drenched in lager and rife with the type of irreverent, arbitrary, and idiotic humor best enjoyed without the killjoy burden of sobriety. A tale of competitive drinking in which two brothers (Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter) create an American team to compete in secret Oktoberfest drinking games known as Beerfest, where they hope to defeat their hated German relatives/rivals and win back their family brewery, it’s an uneven and overly long endeavor defined by intentional stupidity. Yet unlike so many other frat boy-targeted comedies, Chandrasekhar’s multicultural film is also refreshingly devoid of homophobia and xenophobia, its occasional same-sex jokes and rampant cultural stereotypes (Germans as Schwarzenegger He-Men, Jews as brainy scientists, Swedes as hot snow-bunnies, Brits as aggro-morons) all crafted with good-natured, tongue-in-cheek inoffensiveness that’s in keeping with the action’s general ridiculousness.
Both filthier and funnier than Broken Lizard’s prior efforts, Beerfest is still decidedly hit-or-miss, its gorging at the trough of raunch resulting in moments alternately insipid and inspired. But despite being barely distinguishable, as a director, from the Dennis Dugans and Frank Coracis of the world, Chandrasekhar at least knows how to extend a potentially lame gag—like a beer goggle fiasco—to its absurd breaking point. And despite suffering from beverage-gag bloat, the script nonetheless remains relatively lively thanks to recurring references to co-star Jürgen Prochnow’s Das Boot, the sight of Cloris Leachman skillfully warming up a bratwurst with her hands, a combination of drinking challenges both real (Beer Pong, Asshole) and fake (an upside-down contest known as the Monkey Chug), and an Oktoberfest intro highlighted by a gratuitous string of topless women. Even more amusing, however, is the nonsensical pièce de résistance featuring the random replacement of a dead character with his heretofore-unmentioned twin brother—an example of the exuberantly self-reflexive silliness that ultimately keeps Beerfest from going completely flat.
Another abysmally photographed film by the Brozen Lizard crew that both plays better and looks better on the small screen. Colors do not pop off the screen but skin tones are incredibly accurate, with no evidence of mosquito noise or edge enhancement throughout. Audio is banging, especially during any boob-popping or beer-chugging sequence.
Because no commentary track can sustain the excitement of every single Broken Lizard member, the group has been split in half: Jay Chandrasekhar and Steve Lemme on one track, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske on the other. Take your pick between the two frat-boy jabberfests, because both are insanely listenable in their ridiculousness. A "Party Foul" featurette allows these boys to recall alcohol-related mishaps, including the swallowing of a quarter and behind-the-scenes chugging contests with the film’s Germans. "Beer 101" posits an alternate world history where beer plays an integral part in such events as the Pilgrims landing in America and the building of the pyramids in Egypt. Best, though, is the "Frog Fluffer" featurette, in which we get to meet an actual scientist who squeezes eggs out of female frogs. Rounding out the disc are 30 minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, a trailer for the film, and a preview for the straight-to-video title Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning.
Last year, Anna Faris wiped urine over Cloris Leachman’s body. This year, the 79-year-old does an amazing thing with a sausage. Someone give this woman another Oscar.