Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: Supporting Actresses Shine on "Beerfest" (Happy B'day, Cloris Leachman)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Beerfest (2006)
Running time:  110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity, and substance abuse
DIRECTOR:  Jay Chandrasekhar
WRITERS:  Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske)
PRODUCERS:  Bill Gerber and Richard Perello
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Frank G. DeMarco (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Lee Haxall
COMPOSER:  Nathan Barr


Starring:  Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Will Forte, Ralf Moeller, Nat Faxon, Gunter Schlierkamp, and Mo’Nique with Jurgen Prochnow and Cloris Leachman

The subject of this movie review is Beerfest, a 2006 comedy directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.  The film stars the comedy troupe, Broken Lizard, of which Chandrasekhar is a member.  Beerfest focuses on two brothers who discover a secret, underground beer-drinking tournament in Germany.

When German-American brothers, Todd (Erik Stolhanske) and Jan Wolfhouse (Paul Soter), travel to Germany to spread their grandfather Johan’s ashes at Oktoberfest, they stumble upon a secret, centuries old underground beer drinking competition called “Beerfest.”  They also discover long lost German relatives, the von Wolfhausens, who hold an old grudge against their American relatives over a lost beer recipe.  Led by the family patriarch, Baron von Wolfhausen (Jurgen Prochnow), the von Wolfhausens humiliate Todd and Jan, and sneer at their chances of ever winning Beerfest, this Olympics of beer drinking.  The rude Germans even sneer at Todd and Jan’s grandmother, Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman).

Todd and Jan return to American and prepare for another Beerfest showdown the following year.  The brothers recruit three friends to join their team:  the one-man bear-drinking machine, Phil Krundel aka “Landfill” (Kevin Heffernan); the nerdy lab tech, Charlie Finklestein aka “Fink” (Steve Lemme); and Barry Badrinath (Jay Chandrasekhar), a talented skills player who has fallen to street-level prostitution.   The quintet’s year of training, however, is marred by tragedy and hardships, and the five beer-chugging friends begin to doubt they’ll ever win Beerfest.

Beerfest is the fourth feature film from the five-man sketch comedy troupe, Broken Lizard, which is comprised of Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, and Jay Chandrasekhar.  Chandrasekhar directs the Broken Lizard films (including Super Troopers and Club Dread), and also directed the 2005 The Dukes of Hazzard film.  With Chandrasekhar at the helm, Beerfest looks like the other Broken Lizard films.  There are scenes in Beerfest that are as funny as anything in Super Troopers (what I consider to be their best feature).  However, whereas Super Trooper was smooth, Beerfest is uneven, though not as uneven as Club Dread.

Beerfest is truly a ribald comedy, and in some ways it reminds me of the bawdiest Mel Brooks movies.  Still, there’s lots of Beerfest that amounts to little more than simple, immature, juvenile humor.  Luckily, the film is blessed with a great supporting cast.  Jurgen Prochnow is fine as the spicy menace, Baron von Wolfhausen, and Mo’Nique throws herself fully into the role of the duplicitous and randy Cherry; her sex scene with Chandrasekhar is priceless.  Cloris Leachman’s turn as Todd and Jan’s Great Gam Gam, is a testament to her skill as both a comedienne and an actress, and lovers of comedy must and should not miss her performance.

Beerfest isn’t great, but it has great moments of laugh-out-loud and laugh-till-you-cry comedy, and tolerating the missteps is worth such hilarity.

5 of 10

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Updated:  Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

No comments:

Post a Comment