Warner Home Video presents
Beerfest Completely Totally Unrated HD-DVD (2006)
"Miss Barley....Miss Hops....Miss Yeast? I think I'll stay away from that one."- Todd Wolfhouse (Erik Stolhanske)
Stars: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske
Other Stars: Mo'Nique, Jürgen Prochnow, Cloris Leachman, M.C. Hainey, Donald Sutherland, Willie Nelson
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, sexual situations, crude humor)
Run Time: 01h:56m:43s
Release Date: 2007-01-30
DVD ReviewThe Broken Lizard troupe of comedians has produced a number of silly pictures to date, such as Super Troopers and Club Dread. After member Jay Chandrasekhar managed to make something of the Dukes of Hazzard feature film (at least enough to inspire a direct-to-video sequel), Warner decided to green light a Broken Lizard script that no studio had been willing to touch because of its glorification of irresponsible drinking. Luckily, this reviewer is based in Wisconsin and no amount of beer drinking can possibly be too much. For such viewers, there's a lot of entertainment and amusement value in this goofy comedy that manages to rope in some notable names, such as Cloris Leachman, Jürgen Prochnow, Donald Sutherland, and Willie Nelson (the latter two of whom remain safely uncredited).
Young brothers Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd Wolfhouse (Erik Stolhanske) are sent by their great-grandmother (Leachman) to scatter the ashes of their grandfather Johann von Wolfhaus (Sutherland) in Munich at Oktoberfest, as part of the proud beer tradition of the family. Once there, they learn several dark secrets, such as the existence of Beerfest, a hidden world-class drinking game competition. They also learn that their grandfather was an illegitimate member of the von Wolfhaus family, now headed by brewer Wolfgang von Wolfhaus (Prochnow), and that he stole and hid the family recipe for the greatest beer in the world. Humiliated by the German team at Beerfest, the brothers return to America determined to assemble a team to defeat the Germans, namely competitive eater Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), frog-breeding scientist Steve Finkelstein (Steve Lemme), and male hooker Barry Badrinath (Chandrasekhar).
The humor tends to be juvenile and goofy, but it's undeniably funny on a sophomoric level. While there is as one might expect plenty of belching and flatulence humor, it's surprisingly restrained and more incidental than the prime focus. Instead, there's comedy injected into the notion of the drinking games themselves, increasingly complicated and ridiculous, and in the inevitable effects of unrestrained drinking. Those who find it amusing to draw with marker on the faces of people who have passed out will be hugely entertained, while those who find such antics disgusting would be much better served by another movie.
The presentation of the various national teams is gleefully stereotypic, taking every aspect of national reputations and running wild with them. The German team is unsurprisingly the best developed of these, with numerous different stereotypes working at once, from sadistic musclemen to mincing whiners, complete with an obscene impersonation of the Emcee from Cabaret. It's so outrageously over the top that it's impossible to be very offended in any aspect, making the laughs relatively guilt-free. That's useful, since it helps to counter the somewhat xenophobic attitude at the competition. The observing crowds (how do they keep this thing secret, anyway?) are quick to chant "USA! USA!" as long as they're winning, reverting to "USA sucks!" the moment something goes wrong. Or is it just a snarky comment on the easily swayed whims of the crowd?
The picture probably doesn't support too deep an analysis, preferring to go with the gross-out and the goofy. There's plenty of inventiveness along with the obvious, and the gags come fast and furious. Heffernan as the mountainous Landfill is particularly hilarious, especially when he gets into a fight scene opposite the equally mountainous Mo'Nique. Leachman in particular proves herself quite a trouper, taking part in all manner of obscene gags that just get funnier by having the participation of a octogenarian. There are plenty of moments like a live-action cartoon, including the team getting entry to Beerfest via a Trojan Keg. It's rude, off-the-wall and determined to appeal to the juvenile. And in that respect, it succeeds admirably.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||2.40:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The widescreen transfer is gorgeous, with eye-popping color, especially reds and greens throughout. The black level definition is excellent, with plenty of variety in black clothing. Textures and details are excellent. Edge enhancement is very seldom observable. The low light sequences of the tunnels to Beerfest are grainy, but they look pretty good, with a stable and non-shimmery appearance.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: As one would expect, the audio is very clean and without any noticeable hiss or noise. Surround activity on the DD+ 5.1 tracks is pretty much limited to the music, and directionality is fairly limited. The soundtrack features a number of minor classics, headed by great usage of Ça plane pour moi, all of which sound first rate. The sound isn't impressive but it more than does the job.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1) Jay Chandrasekhar and Steve Lemme; 2) Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske
Extras Review: The HD DVD comes packed with extras, none of which are in HD. The Broken Lizard guys contribute a pair of rival commentaries, though they tend to cover a lot of the same ground. Neither one is particularly humorous, though. If you like deleted scenes, there are plenty here for you, with 24 such running 27m:02s total. They're also available with two optional commentaries that are pretty wide-ranging. The scenes were wisely cut, since few of them are funny and they add little to the picture. A faux documentary, Beer 101 (15m:02s) purports to be an animated history of beer and the drinking thereof. Party Foul (9m:30s) features Broken Lizard discussing ways that one can commit a party foul, and the consequences that may follow. Word of advice: don't pass out around these guys lest you find yourself Saran Wrapped to a pole, upside down. Finally, Frog Fluffer (4m:41s) features an actual frog breeding scientist and how exactly he encourages the fertilization of frog eggs. It's certainly... different.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsSophomoric comedy drenched in beer. What could be better? The HD transfer is blazing with color, and there are plenty of extras, if you don't pass out first. Beware Das Boot!
Mark Zimmer 2007-02-06