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beerfest
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Beerfest

Starring Broken Lizard, with Cloris Leachman, Donald Sutherland, Willie Nelson
Written by Broken Lizard
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
website: http://beerfestmovie.warnerbros.com

IN SHORT: Three laughs in this one. That's improvement! [Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse. 105 minutes]

When the naked breasts came popping out ten minutes into Beerfest, we smiled content in the feeling that the Broken Lizard comedy band o' brothers (writer/ performers Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) had taken our criticism of 2003's Super Troopers and 2004's Club Dread to heart and kicked the nudity content up and cut back on the four letter words -- a feat which they managed with the adaptation of Dukes of Hazzard, which we enjoyed. (Of course, we were one of the few.) Ah, sorry, they almost managed that. So much for hope.

Beerfest begins with Death. It may be a cosmic Beginning from Ending kind of thing or it may not. It is an excuse for a big teevee star's father to maintain his SAG card as grandfather of Todd and Jan Wolfhouse (Lizards Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter), and for said kidlets to journey to their ancestral homeland, Germany, to scatter dead dude's ashes. In Der Fatherland, the Von Wolfhausen family (the family that stayed behind, including Saturday Night Live's Will Forte) do everything but piss on their cousins and make a mockery of a solemn attempt to scatter.

Actually, they may do that. There is some piss action later in the film. We were too numbed to remember more than the basics (desperately hoping for more nudity, which turned out to be more than an hour off. Not the blondes in the poster, either. Darn.) More important, to this story at least, is the discovery of a Beerfest running in the shadows of the more famous Oktoberfest celebration. Beerfest celebrates all things involving hops and barley and its multinational beer drinking contest is a very exclusive event, as our young heroes discover. Said Germans are convinced that their American cousins are in possession of the family beer recipe, one stolen out of the country years ago by the now aged great-grandmother nicknamed the Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman), also potentially known as the inspiration for every German ghetto gangsta rap every consigned to vinyl. It is not a happy family reunion. The Germans drink the Americans under the table. They pelt them with rotten cabbage. Maybe there's some piss action here, too. Definitely later. Breasts later, too. And that pair of blondes so alluring in the movie poster are no where to be seen. Well, one blonde but a cheap imitation of the promise, even with her clothes on. Grrrr....

Humiliated by these events, the boys determine to field their own competitive team at next year's secret confab: Regulation team size is five, so Todd and Jan roam Colorado seeking talent. They find Phil "Landfill" Krundle (Kevin Heffernan). He is fat. Scientist Charlie "Fink" Finklestein (Steve Lemme) does questionable things to frogs. Barry Badrinath (Jay Chandrasekhar) does questionable things with anyone waving a dollar, over on the wrong side of town. This Fab Five practices intently for a year, and then head over the pond to drink the rest of the world into submission. Something like that.

Beerfest falls short of the three jokes a page rule that made Airplane (and so on) bust a gut funny. We managed three laughs for the entire movie BUT and, obviously that's a very big BUT IF the predecessor movies by these Lizard guys made you bust a gut ... well, clean up the mess and buy a first run ticket. Our crowd was laughing consistently through the screening. Either they got stoned first, which sure wouldn't hurt (not that we're endorsing any such illegal behavior. Much.) or they really bought into the Lizards' brand of funny. That means: not enough nudity; way too many effin' words; just enough disgusting gag humor, and we mean that literally, to keep the stoners happy and a couple of very subtle swipes at classic films that have come before -- notably Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot, whose actor commander has a prominent part in this film, overseeing a contest in which teams must chug from a a glass, or more properly pronounced "das boot" with the fate of the stolen recipe on the line against the estranged family's ancestral right to the bavarian brewery.

As far as the story goes, it barely hangs together. Either you are properly prepared or you takes your chances. Medically, we had to give that up years ago. But if you are properly prepared, nothing will protect you from the 300 pounds of crushing love unleashed in the second act. This surprise is a big, in all sense of the word, television star (Mo'Nique) and you'll be wishing you had an empty stomach when her sex scene hits. Lizards prefer gross over sexy. That's probably why we yearn for the days of the old NatLamp comedies.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Beerfest, he would have paid . . .

$2.00

Rent ... unless you've got a crowd to hang with and a handy doobie to prep with.

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