on August 25, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
The story underlying the hijinks in “Beerfest” is a slight but useful setup for what adds up to a bunch of not necessarily coherent gags, bits, stunts and one-liners, mostly surrounding the unabashed over-consumption of beer and what that means to the human body and those watching. The Wolfhouse brothers, Todd (Erik Stolhanske) and Jan (Paul Soter), are from a staunchly German-American family but have never visited the Vaterland. When their grandfather dies, their grandmother (Cloris Leachman, channeling her Frau Blucher from "Young Frankenstein”) gets them to take granddad's ashes back to the old country. There, they stumble upon a secret beer-drinking Olympiad dominated by the von Wolfhausens, the German branch of the family. Foolishly they challenge the Deutschlanders and are humiliated. Furthermore, their German relatives accuse their grandfather of having stolen the family beer recipe. Down but not out, the Wolfhouse brothers return to America where they solicit a few of their more disgusting friends to form an Olympic-caliber beer-drinking team and return to the games, where things really get nasty.

A surprise hit for the Broken Lizard comedy troupe in 2001, “Super Troopers” was helmed by founding member Jay Chandrasekhar, as was 2004's “Club Dread,” a campy spoof of the hack-n-slash horror genre, which was less successful both in execution and at the box office. “Beerfest,” also directed by Chandrasekhar, who plays a couple of roles in the film, as do most of the Broken Lizards, splits the difference: It's funnier than “Club Dread,” though not as subversive as “Super Troopers.” Yet it is as completely offensive as either of those films, if not more so, depending on your gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and general penchant for good taste. Part ”Animal House,” with bits of National Lampoon's “European Vacation” and just a touch of the great Canadian “Strange Brew” comedies starring Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, “Beerfest” may have good lineage, but that doesn'tt always make for a good movie. In any case, there it is -- all bloated and glassy- eyed and ready for a swig. Starring Erik Stolhanske, Paul Soter, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, M.C. Gainey, Cloris Leachman and Jurgen Prochow. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. Written by Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske. Produced by Bill Gerber, Steve Lemme, Richard Perello and Erik Stolhanske. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse. Running time: 110 min

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