on 30 March 2011
Funny how these films divide opinion, I thought super troopers was rubbish and turned it off half way thorugh, but this I found hilarious for the most part. Probably because I love beer so much myself. Mmmmn beer...
Of course its not a brilliant piece of cinema hstory or anything, its a puerile comedy best watched whilst getting drunk yourself, but it has good laughs all the way through, and some truly brilliant moments, like the surreal underground passageway that leads to beerfest, and every bit that Jurgen Procknow is in. How great is it that such a brilliant actor with classics like Das Boot behind him can parody himself and the German sterotype is a film like this?
A few stupid things, like the ridiculous fake accents the English have - why couldnt they find any number of real drunk Englishmen to take part in this?! But overall a little known gem of a comedy
You have to love any comedy that throws up a warning screen before the opening credits - in this case, it's a warning to leave the serious beer-drinking to the professionals (or else you will die). Mr. Big Man on Campus may be able to drink his frat buddies under the table, but he probably wouldn't last five minutes at Beerfest. It's much more than a contest to see who can drink the most beer in the shortest amount of time. Beerfest is a veritable mini-Olympics of brewsky, with such games as beer pong, quarters, and the formidable Das Boot helping determine the overall champion team. This is truly where the big boys play.
Upon the death of their grandfather, Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd Wolfhouse (Erik Stolhanske) travel to Munich to carry out his last request - having his ashes scattered in his homeland during Oktoberfest. There is nothing somber about this occasion, though, as an abundance of beer and women's breasts quickly extinguish whatever grief they may have been feeling. Then their guide takes them to Beerfest, and they think they've died and gone to heaven - at first. All that changes when their German cousin, Wolfgang von Wolfhaus (Jurgen Prochnow) orders them to leave and attacks their family honor by accusing their dead grandfather of stealing the renowned family beer recipe and fleeing to American with his prostitute of a mother. Being humiliated by a bunch of pansy Germans with their Hans and Franz accents and tight little lederhosen doesn't sit well with the Wolfhouses. Upon returning home, they vow to form a team and return to Beerfest next year so that they can have their revenge on the Germans
As far as team members go, the guys fall back on some old college drinking buddies. "Landfill" (Kevin Heffeman), still bitter about having lost his job at a brewery for drinking too much of the outgoing beer, is an easy sell to join the team - and they don't call him Landfill for nothing. "Fink" Finkelstein (Steve Lemme), now a scientist spending most of his time masturbating frogs, doesn't look like a beer drinker, but you know how those wiry guys can fool you - and he's smart, hopefully smart enough to figure out the trick of conquering Das Boot, Beerfest's ultimate tie-breaking contest. Fink's not too high on the idea of participating at first - but his reluctance disappears completely when he learns that the enemy is German (never underestimate the power of the "eye of the Jew"). Then there's the somewhat controversial choice of Barry Badrinath (Jay Chandrasekhar, doing triple duty as actor, co-writer, and director). Barry is really down on his luck nowadays, and there's also the fact that he slept with Jan's (or was it Todd's) girlfriend back in college), so there's always some underlying friction there. As the guys begin their training, though, they all come together - putting their health, their jobs, their families, even their own lives on the line, super-focused on winning the championship. The German team, especially Wolfgang von Wolfhaus, has some dirty tricks up its sleeve, though, making their play for the long-lost family beer recipe weeks before the contest. Their sneaky blitzkrieg tactics threaten to break up the American team, but these guys are playing for everything they hold dear - the long-lost family beer recipe, their Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman), all underdogs, each other, as well as for America. And so this becomes a story of the underdog daring to dream and trying to make that dream a reality.
I thought this movie was pretty hilarious. The whole Beerfest atmosphere is a hoot, the guys' training regimen produces many a funny moment, the dialogue holds many a good joke, and the actors really gel together quite well despite their obvious differences. Yes there's nudity and a fair amount of toilet humor (sometimes literally), but what else would you expect from a film of this type? And don't go thinking it's a completely cookie-cutter plot either, as Beerfest introduced a couple of story elements I never expected (starting with the end of the very first scene). Not since Strange Brew have I been this entertained by a movie about beer and the men who drink it.