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Monday, August 21, 2006

Beerfest: I'll Try to Look Away, But I Don't Think I Can

I was at the movies a couple of weeks ago to see "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" when a trailer popped on the screen for "Beerfest," which opens Aug. 25th around the country. I laughed a bit watching the scenes they had strung together, then cringed realizing that most of the people I knew would expect me to go out and see this movie.

Now I'm all in favor of good clean fun. I was, after all, waiting for Talladega Nights to start. Heck, it doesn't have to be all that clean and in the case of Beerfest it's not. This film is rated R for "pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse." Beerfest is from Broken Lizard, the people behind the 2001 film "Super Troopers." The story line of this movie is that two American brothers travel to Germany for Oktoberfest to spread the ashes of their grandfather, only to stumble upon secret beer chugging competition. The Americans want to beat the Germans, English, Irish and other teams at the event. There's even an all-female team from Scandanavia.We can all imagine the direction the script takes.

So why am I cringing about seeing this film? I think parts of it will be funny, but it will perpetuate stereotypes about beer drinkers and beer festivals that are mostly untrue. I'm not against making fun of beer drinkers (I'm OK with laughing at myself), but it could be accomplished more efficiently in a Saturday Night Live skit.

I think Beerfest will leave me kind of feeling the same way that Talladega Nights did. There were funny parts to that movie, but it missed its chance to be a real cult film like Slapshot or Animal House. Those movies can still get me to watch and laugh 25+ years later. I'm not sure why Talladega Nights did not hit a home run for me. I loved the Laughing Clown Malt Liquor sponsorship of Ricky Bobby's first car and the fact his delinquent father had a can of the sponsor's beer with him throughout the movie. I like Will Ferrell, he's a funny guy. So I hate to even say this, but he is clearly better in a supporting role than trying to carry an entire film. I absolutely love Ferrell in Old School and Wedding Crashers. I think Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was one of the worst comedies I've seen in sometime. I will give him credit for Elf, but you were required to suspend disbelief from the very start of that movie. The thing that would have made the Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy roles true classics is if they were played over the top, but in a way that was still believable. I did not get that feeling.

Beerfest will likely be a hit with the college fraternity crowd. Perhaps they should not allow anyone under 25 to attend without being accompanied by a college student.

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