There's roughly a pint of quality comedy rattling around in this keg-sized movie, which fills out the rest of its time by being so cheerfully stupid that those with brains muddled by a few beers or worse probably won't notice all the foam. The Broken Lizard comedy troupe enjoyed DVD success with "Super Troopers," and its latest should find similar vitality in that format.
There’s roughly a pint of quality comedy rattling around in this keg-sized movie, which fills out the rest of its time by being so cheerfully stupid that those with brains muddled by a few beers or worse (almost a prerequisite) probably won’t notice all the foam. The Broken Lizard comedy troupe enjoyed considerable DVD success with “Super Troopers,” and its latest should find similar vitality in that format after this late-summer theatrical pit stop. Indeed, some scenes and the closing outtakes already feel like little more than a tease for the unrated DVD extras sure to come.
Director Jay Chandrasekhar — one fifth of the Lizard brigade, along with Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, who share script credit and play multiple roles — took a detour to helm “The Dukes of Hazzard” (2005), and “Beerfest” possesses the same crazy energy and modicum of wit. The audience, for example, is warned at the outset, in “Jackass” fashion, that should they attempt to mimic the movie’s drinking excesses, “YOU WILL DIE.”
Soter and Stolhanske play Jan and Todd, two dim-bulb brothers who have been given the task of scattering the ashes of their granddad (an uncredited Donald Sutherland) by his Teutonic mom (Cloris Leachman) at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Once there, though, they stumble onto a secret underground drinking competition (“The Beer Hunter”?) where they are trounced by the minions of the Baron (Juergen Prochnow), who’s holding a long-brewing grudge because of a stolen beer recipe that Jan and Todd’s ancestors smuggled to America.
Determined to return a year later and gain revenge, the brothers recruit a trio of college chums with useful skills when it comes to playing beer pong or quarters and draining huge tankards of ale — in short, an average Friday at a local frat house, albeit featuring guys who are clearly too old for this nonsense as the principal imbibers.
Chandrasekhar maintains a bit of momentum through the early going as the less-than-fabulous five is assembled and begins “training.” There’s also the sheer giddiness of the Oktoberfest shindig erupting into a melee — complete with nine or 10 gratuitously bared breasts — as well as a helpful demonstration of what are affectionately known as “beer goggles” involving Mo’Nique, an extremely game co-star.
Yet as is almost inevitable with this kind of enterprise, there isn’t enough creative wattage to sustain that level of zaniness, which is why such fare plays better on DVD, where the best moments can be absorbed in bite-sized bits and the debris easily bypassed. (There’s also a clever “Das Boot” gag involving Prochnow that will likely fly over most heads in the target audience, which is surely composed of those just old enough to qualify for the pic’s “R” rating.)
Supporting players appear to have considerable fun with their Hans and Franz-esque accents (or in Leachman’s case, Frau Blucher), including “Saturday Night Live’s” Will Forte. And if the contest finale is somewhat anticlimactic, it should nevertheless provide beer-game ideas to impressionable youngsters who might otherwise squander their formative years in libraries and study halls.