Drinking vast quantities of beer is cool. Silly German accents are funny. Little old ladies talking dirty are even funnier. Masturbation and anal sex are flat-out hilarious. Eighties comedies rule, especially Caddyshack, Stripes and the first Police Academy. No film can ever contain enough bare breasts. The more of these statements you agree with, the more you'll enjoy Beerfest. I agree with all of them and I thought it was a hoot.
This is the third film from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, following Super Troopers and Club Dread. Let's be kind and ignore their involvement with The Dukes Of Hazzard. I was a fan of Super Troopers, a faithful and funny tribute to the slob comedies of the seventies and eighties, but their follow-up, Club Dread was a disappointment, a pointless slasher spoof that never took off. Beerfest sees them go back to their old school comedy roots and return to form.
Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Eric Stolhanske) are a pair of German-American brothers whose grandfather (a cameo by Donald Sutherland) has just passed away. After his funeral, their great-grandmother (Cloris Leachman, a good sport) asks them to take his remains back to the old country but she doesn't warn them they'll be walking into the middle of a bitter family feud. Arriving in Munich during Oktoberfest, the city's famous, annual beer festival, they're humiliated by their German cousins, who turn out to be international beer-drinking champions, and they have their ancestry insulted by their grandfather's arrogant brother (Jürgen Prochnow, also a good sport).
The Wolfhouses want revenge. They decide to officially enter the following year's drinking competition with an American team made up of themselves and some of their old partying buddies. These are Fink (Steve Lemme), a proud Jew and science geek, Landfill (Kevin Heffernan) an idiot who has been fired from his dream job on a beer production line and Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar), a onetime college lothario now reduced to selling his bottom on street corners. Banding together for the sake of friendship, country and a good excuse to drink loads, these five beery slobs begin training to become world-class beery slobs.
Just so I don't get complaints, let me emphasise that this is a crude, politically incorrect and downright irresponsible comedy that glorifies binge-drinking and drug use and never passes up a chance to snigger about sex, poke fun at every race and nationality imaginable or rip the top off a pretty girl. Its idea of highbrow humour is to provide cheap in-jokes for those familiar with Jürgen Prochnow's role as a U-boat captain in Das Boot.
That's description however, not criticism. I didn't object to anything in this movie. Not even the racial jokes? No. I think if you're prepared to laugh at yourself and your own kind - and there are plenty of jokes about dumb Yanks - then everyone else is also fair game. That's why Eurotrip didn't offend me and neither did this. It only bothers me when a comedian attacks everyone else and exempts himself.
Besides, comedy is only offensive when it's not funny. Is Beerfest funny? Yes, it is. If you have the right sense of humour and you're in the right mood, it will have you in fits. What's the right sense of humour? If you still smile at the thought of Caddyshack's chocolate bar in the swimming pool. What's the right mood? Ideally, when you're as pissed as Beerfest's heroes. This is a film that will play very well to teenage boys, student crowds and the immature (this reviewer raises his hand). Be advised though, it won't play nearly so well to older viewers, the easily offended and teetotallers. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Note: Beerfest has been cut in the UK by 9 seconds to qualify for a 15 certificate. A scene of "sexualised asphyxiation" was removed.