Think of whatever taboos you thought were broken by those edgy R-rated comedies from last year, “Wedding Crashers” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Got those thoughts locked in your head? Good, now watch “Beerfest” absolutely obliterate them. It’s more vulgar, there is even more gratuitous nudity, and the main characters are drunk in nearly every scene. Simply put, this is going to be every college male’s new favorite movie. Shocking to me, though, that this is the work of the same man responsible for “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Sure, it helped him land a three-picture deal at Warner Brothers for his Broken Lizard brethren, but what a steep price to pay in terms of your dignity.
The movie begins with Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd (Erik Stolhanske) burying their German immigrant father (can’t tell you who plays him, that would be spoiling the fun). Their Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman) asks them to take their father’s ashes back to Germany and spread them at Oktoberfest, a wish that the boys, experienced drinkers themselves, happily oblige. Almost as soon as they arrive, though, they are escorted by a local to an underground, “Fight Club”-style drinking tournament called Beerfest, which is sponsored by Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen (Jurgen Prochnow), the boys’ estranged uncle. In light of learning some embarrassing information about their father, Jan and Todd attempt to save face by challenging the German Beerfest team to a competition, only to get humiliated. The boys then come back to the States and recruit college drinking buddies Fink (Steve Lemme), Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), and drinking game legend-turned-prostitute Barry (“Beerfest” director Jay Chandrasekhar) to go back to Beerfest in a year’s time and bring the title to the US, who has never even been invited to the competition in the past.
The most amusing aspect of “Beerfest” is how it knowingly exploits numerous plot devices, from the cameo to the conveniently unknown relative (what they do with that waves a middle finger at every movie critic alive, which is why I found it so funny) to needless boob shot after boob shot after boob shot. In fact, there is only one scene in the entire movie that actually calls for nudity, but the fact that they squeezed it into so many other places…hell yes. This is a movie about drinking lots of beer (it even comes with a crawl at the beginning warning people how silly it would be to attempt the events depicted therein). But what is a movie about drinking lots of beer without a whole bunch of topless women? That’s right, LAME. They even pull off a very amusing sequence where you see through the eyes of a drunk, and as predictable as it may be – and let’s be honest, you’ll see a lot of these jokes coming down Broadway – it’s the execution that matters.
“Beerfest” is not a great movie, but it’s a damn funny one, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for movies like “The Break-Up” that claimed to be funny but were painful instead. Indeed, it makes me look back on the last three months and conclude that the end of the summer, often considered a wasteland after the July 4 weekend, actually turned out to be better than the beginning of it. “Beerfest,” “Clerks II,” “The Descent,” “Snakes on a Plane” and even “Talladega Nights” were far better than any of the “tentpole” movies that the summer originally boasted. But enough about that whole re-imagining August rant I was on (which, of course, has nothing to do with the fact that I was born in August). If you were thinking about seeing this movie, you’re going to love it. If the whole idea sounded silly and sophomoric, well, it’s that, too. The movie is what it is, and it hits its mark surprisingly well for a souped-up teen comedy. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new “Old School.” Better than the old “Old School.”(4 / 5)