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Review: Beerfest

Both filthier and funnier than Broken Lizard’s prior efforts, Beerfest is still decidedly hit-and-miss.

Photo: Warner Bros.

“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-and-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.

Cast: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Will Forte, Ralf Moeller, Mo'Nique, Eric Christian Olsen, Jürgen Prochnow, Cloris Leachman Director: Jay Chandrasekhar Screenwriter: Broken Lizard Distributor: Warner Bros. Running Time: 112 min Rating: R Year: 2006 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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