Beerfest

The Broken Lizard comedy troupe has had an on-again-off-again love affair with fans and critics alike. They broke into the mainstream with their uproariously funny Super Troopers in 2001, followed by the disappointing Club Dread in 2004. And in order to get their recent hilarious offering, Beerfest, made, they had to pay penance with 2005’s mostly horrible Dukes of Hazzard. But luckily, they made us fall back in love with them with the new flick, and it’s a true return to form for them.

In Beerfest, brothers Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (BL’s Paul Sotor and Erik Stolhanske) travel from their home in Colorado to Munich to honor their dead father’s burial wishes. There, they stumble upon a long standing sub-celebration of Oktoberfest known as Beerfest. Automatically dismissed as they belong the illegitimate bloodline of the family who sponsors the Beerfest, and because they are American, Jan and Todd decide to come back the next year, after putting together the ultimate beer drinking team. They ask college buddies Landfill, Barry and Fink (Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, who also directs and Steve Lemme) to round out the team and endure 12 grueling months of beer drinking training.

What really made both Beerfest and Super Troopers work is the fraternal aspect of the comedy. No one person is a comedic island, all relying on the other four for support. That team effort has become lost as comic’s star status and egos have inflated. While the films of Steve Carell and Will Ferrell are funny, they are more about the star, with the supporting players doing just that, supporting. You rarely see a team effort in a comedy.

It’s a sophomoric film that plays to our childish humor, and never tries to go high-brow. And the attraction of these types of films is the hands down fun and enjoyment of it, without needing to think too much about the jokes.

While funny and mostly original, I did walk away with a feeling like I had seen it before. It fell into the mold of the great party flicks that came before it. Like Animal House and Bachelor Party before it, it’s raunchy and loud and bawdy. It’s entertaining, I’ll give it that. But it’s just derivative.

All the earmarks of a comedy were there. The timing of the actors was obvious, but the poor editing job did it’s best to hide that. Lucky for us, it failed. And quite frankly, who likes CG beer? Not I. If you can’t drink it, what’s the point? But when the jokes are so funny you’re rolling in the seat, you’ll hardly notice the technical flaws.

It’s good to see the raunchy comedy making a comeback. This along with Clerks II and Jackass 2 make the theatre a good place for guys to go and hang out. The comedy flick world is littered with cheesy rom-com’s for the girls and tamer fair for teens and younger. The beer and fart jokes almost went the way of the Betamax and 8-track, and were replaced by the neurotic and inexplicably relationship challenged Jennifer Aniston.

3 Stars

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