2 items from 2006
"Beerfest", as the title promises, is an alcohol-driven comedy about young and foolish men and a fondness for contests involving their favorite beverage. The film is from the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, and you cannot be blamed for assuming the group's affection for crude gags and tiresome routines escalated with their blood alcohol levels. The disappointment is that when sobriety returned, the group didn't exercise some critical judgment by losing the worst of these gags. Then again, maybe the guys did, leaving open the depressing possibility these are the best gags.
Whatever the "creative" process behind the film, "Beerfest" is tedious and, at 112 minutes, too long to sustain a sophomoric, one-joke comedy even for the presumed target audience of older male teens and the college-age crowd. The question is, will this crowd really spend good beer money to watch other people get drunk? They may not be that foolish.
Broken Lizard made its name with "Super Troopers" followed by "Club Dread". Its member Jay Chandrasekhar, who directs its films, also helmed last year's "The Dukes of Hazzard", an above-average hit for Warner Bros. Pictures. So this film's ineptitude and lack of discrimination cannot be blamed on rookie nervousness. The operating principle here is that if a joke is likely to elicit a groan, it's in.
Upon the death of their German-born grandfather (an unbilled cameo by Donald Sutherland), American brothers Todd and Jan Wolfhouse (Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter) head for the old country to spread his ashes at Oktoberfest on instructions from Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman in a do-anything-for-a-laugh mode). In Munich, they meet their German cousins, who insult the Yank branch of the family and beat them badly in beer drinking in a secret underground competition known as Beerfest.
The brothers vow to return a year later to avenge this humiliating defeat. So the rest of the film charts their effort to recruit and train a "Dirty Five", thus expanding the group to include Barry (Chandrasekhar), a game player reduced to skid-row prostitution; Fink (Steve Lemme), a scientist with an interesting lab technique for extracting frog semen; and Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), an overweight eating contestant.
The film takes a feeble stab at a subplot about the American brothers learning they are the rightful heirs to their cousins' brewery, but this gets fumbled away through boozy inattention. That only astonishing thing here is that German star Juergen Prochnow was enticed into playing the villainous baron.
Filming in New Mexico, which subs none too convincingly for Colorado and Bavaria, Chandrasekhar fumbles away other things as well, things such as pacing and timing. The film is little more than one cliche about drinking and Germans and sausages after another. But how addle-brained did Broken Lizard get to think a German vs. Jew joke was going to fly?
Comedies about alcoholism, which is what this is really about, are few and far between in cinema. The few include "Arthur", "Harvey", "Papa's Delicate Condition", much of the work of W.C. Fields and, most recently, "Sideways". Against this dipsomaniac major league, "Beerfest" doesn't even qualify bush league.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures presents in association with
Legendary Pictures a Gerber Pictures/Catland Films/
Broken Lizard production
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Screenwriters: Broken Lizard
Producers: Bill Gerber, Richard Perello
Executive producers: Michael Beugg, Peter E. Lengyel, Thomas Tull, Wiliam Fay
Director of photography: Frank G. DeMarco
Production designer: Clark Hunter
Music: Nathan Barr
Costume designer: Tracia Gray
Editor: Lee Haxall
Jan Wolfhouse: Paul Soter
Todd Wolfhouse/Young Baron: Erik Stolhanske
Great Gam Gam: Cloris Leachman
Barry: Jay Chandrasekhar
Fink: Steve Lemme
Landfill: Kevin Heffernan
Baron: Jurgen Prochnow
MPAA rating R
Running time -- 112 minutes »
- You might not have a damn clue as to who these folks are (I’d say I’m familiar with half the names) but this annual list compiled by Filmmaker Magazine is a precursor for many folks you’ll be foaming at the mouth for their original projects to come. Producers, writers, directors and actors are highlighted and ranked by the folks at. This year’s crop has actually got a name that I’d put at the top of my list. Number 8 – Carter Smith gave us the short film that was selected for Cannes and Sundance and it is perhaps my favorite of the year with Bugcrush. Our correspondent Barbara Celis would probably rank the Pastor brothers (#17 on the list) as a pair to watch for. Below I’ve included some links to some of these folks work, but obviously for the complete 25 you would want to head over here. »
2 items from 2006
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