Beerfest is Broken Lizard’s crowning achievement. I liked Super Troopers. It moved along with solid laughs and some oddball originality within its homage to the classic ‘80s formula. Beerfest has a far more surreal tone, but all the same homages.
When the Wolfhouse brothers go to Germany to spread their grandfather’s ashes, they discover Beerfest, a subsection of Oktoberfest with the most extreme drinking games. It’s dominated by their family’s bitter relatives, the von Wolfhausens. After getting schooled, the boys decide to spend the next year putting together a crack team of beer drinkers so they can return and beat their familial rivals.
This is just the overall cliché. It’s peppered with brilliant little clichés as well. Their A-Team/Dirty Dozen group contains specialized skills, any of whom can pop up with a random talent as needed. There are family secrets and past traumas that must be overcome, sore spots that tear the team apart at inopportune times and plenty of montages.
The tone of Beerfest is like South Park if they did an episode only about the adults in South Park. The kids are what grounds South Park in some level of reality. But the adults are in their hyperreality where simple tasks seem ultra-dramatic, daily occurrences seem ultra-serious and anything somewhat positive is just the greatest thing ever. That’s how the five guys act, that’s how their enemies act, that’s how their grandma acts… There is not a single character acting realistically.
Beginning with the extreme warning at the front of the movie, Beerfest lives up to its outrageous promise. The accents of all competitors are ridiculous, but none more so than the Germans. Even real German actors put on ridiculous accents. When the boys lose the first Beerfest, they get lettuce thrown at them. Lettuce!
There are the grossout jokes too, all executed in the tone described above. A frog masturbation scene uses ridiculous rhythmic croaking. A lot of urine gets ingested or sprayed around and nobody really complains.
Plenty of random references too. When’s the last time you heard a Hands Across America joke? And the aftermath of their first binge drinking session is hysterically bizarre.
There are massive gratuitous boobies, just joyfully there as the girls mock scream while they jiggle for the camera.
At 110 minutes, the film definitely loses some momentum. It’s not that everything’s not still funny, but it becomes too much. When the main joke of a film is its very tone, a lot of jokes can feel the same. The version in theaters should have been the extended DVD cut. Maybe for DVD, they’ll cut it down to 90 minutes as a special feature.