For helmer Bob Gosse, Tucker Max is above all a celebrity in need of an audience.
Based on Tucker Max’s bestseller and scripted and produced by Max and Nils Parker, low-budget indie “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” distinguishes itself from such last-fling-before-the-wedding comedies as “The Hangover” with the grittiness of its Texas-set locales and the smug intelligence of its unapologetically narcissistic protagonist. As portrayed by Matt Czuchry, this self-proclaimed a-hole is even adorably cute. But for helmer Bob Gosse (“Niagara, Niagara”), Tucker Max is above all a celebrity in need of an audience. Pic, which opens Sept. 25 in platform release, looks unlikely to attract date-night crowds but could score with young male target auds.
After an opening law-school scene designed to showcase Tucker’s verbal virtuosity, as well as his compulsion to shock, the pic shifts into buddy-movie mode as Tucker (Czuchry) tricks straight-arrow pal Dan (Geoff Stults) into a bachelor binge at a particularly sleazy strip joint 250 miles away, hauling along woman-betrayed recluse Drew (Jesse Bradford) for some “hair of the dog” therapy.
In an ensuing bar-crawling sequence, the boys toss down shots and do the dozens with a band of pre-wedding bachelorettes, neither side particularly witty in its gender-bashing (with Drew’s invective more violent than inspired). Then it’s off to the main attraction: the hands-on strip joint.
Despite (or maybe because of) Tucker’s nonstop sexual political incorrectness, the pic’s femmes tend to shine. Left-behind fiancee Kristy (Keri Lynn Pratt) displays a wicked sense of humor, while the videogame-playing stripper mom (Marika Dominczyk) who snares Drew’s heart positively twinkles with mischief. Even the deaf girl whose sexual wails bring the cops bursting through the door — in the pic’s hand-held, “Cops”-style prologue — upbraids the intruders with speech-impaired brio.
Tucker receives his comeuppance in the form of a powerful laxative introduced in his beer, the proverbial substance hitting the fan — or in this case, the lens, in one of the cinema’s most extended fecal sequences. (Gosse gets maximum mileage out of long shots of Tucker skittering around a hotel lobby’s vast, white marble floor, leaving a brown trail behind him.)
Tucker’s Ferris Bueller-like genius comes in his ability to repurpose this humiliation as a wedding-crashing, Baptist-shocking standup act to get back into his friends’ good graces and feign remorse. Tucker’s true epiphany arrives with his dismal attempts to navigate the bar scene solo; apparently, his success depends on an audience of buddies.