Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beerfest




Written and starring the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, that consists of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske, and directed by Chandrasekhar, Beerfest is the story of two brothers who gather some old friends to train for a beer-drinking competition known as Beerfest to avenge the honor of their late grandfather from German relatives. The film is a simple comedy that is just about a bunch of guys training for a worldwide beer-drinking competition in Germany and challenge some of the world’s best. Also starring Cloris Leachman, Jurgen Prochnow, Mo’Nique, Nat Faxon, Eric Christen Olsen, Will Forte, Blanchard Ryan, Ralf Moller, Gunter Schlierkamp, and Donald Sutherland. Beerfest is a hilarious and entertaining comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe.

The film is a simple story about two brothers who travel to Germany to spread the ashes of their late grandfather in his homeland only to encounter the annual worldwide Beerfest drinking competition where they are humiliated by their German cousins as they vow revenge on their late grandfather by forming a team of their own with a few friends. It’s a film that doesn’t require much plot as these two brothers come to Germany only to return humiliated as the oldest Jan Wolfhouse (Paul Soter) gets a black eye from the trip as he and his younger brother Todd (Erik Stolhanske) want to fight back by gathering some of their old college friends in the hot dog eating champion Phil “Landfill” Krundle (Kevin Heffernan), the Jewish scientist Charlie “Fink” Finklestein (Steve Lemme), and Barry Badinrath (Jay Chandrasekhar) who has fallen on hard times as he becomes a male prostitute.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the Wolfhouse family background as their related to the Beerfest organizer Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen (Jurgen Prochnow) but also how closely related he is to their late grandfather Johann (Donald Sutherland) through their great-grandmother Gam-Gam (Cloris Leachman). Along the way, the Wolfhouse brothers discover an old family recipe that was once considered lost as it would attract the attention of von Wolfhausen and eventually lead to a confrontation at the next Beerfest between the Americans and the Germans. Yet, the film has a lot of antics not just in the beer-drinking games that emerge but also in the characters plus a lot of references to the film Das Boot not just in a foot-long boot-shaped glass but also in a scene where von Wolfhausen is inside a submarine and says that he gets anxious about being in a sub. The script continuously adds a lot of jokes but also maintain the bond between a bunch of guys trying to train for an entire year for a beer-drinking competition.

Jay Chandrasekhar’s direction is pretty simple in terms of its compositions while he does manage to maintain a sense of consistency in terms of the jokes and comedic antics. Even as some of the drinking games that are portrayed are quite outrageous though a lot of them are real. Though the film is set in Colorado and in Germany, much of the film is shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico where it plays into the culture of beer-drinking though much of the alcohol is consumed is really non-alcoholic beer. Chandrasekhar’s compositions are quite simple in terms of its close-ups and medium shots while it features some very silly moments such as the gang drinking ram urine to prepare for the competition as well as some of the tension between the gang. Some of the partying is quite racy and juvenile where the gang isn’t afraid to be silly but also break the fourth wall at times such as Badinrath realizing who he really slept with. The film’s climax is the Beerfest competition as there is so much at stake but also some big discoveries about the secret into drinking the Das Boot glass. Overall, Chandrasekhar creates a very engaging and witty film about a bunch of guys drinking beer for a worldwide beer-drinking competition.

Cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco definitely creates a nice look to the film's scenes which includes some of the scenes at the Beerfest competition. Editor Lee Haxall does terrific work in the editing in the use of montages and other rhythmic cuts for the film‘s humor. Production designer Clark Hunter, with set decorator Gabriella Villarreal and art director David Baca, does amazing work in creating the festival that is Beerfest while costume designer Tricia Gray creates some wonderful uniforms for the various countries playing in the event.

Sound editor Gregory King also creates some superb work on the film's sound, notably the way quarters hit the glass. Music composer Nathan Barr creates an excellent yet exuberant score to emphasize the momentum of Beerfest. The soundtrack features an array mix of music ranging from acts like Del the Funkee Homosapien, the Meters, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bulletboys, AC/DC, Kool & the Gang, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Poison, Eagles of Death Metal, and the German techno group Bubbles who play the same track that appeared in Super Troopers.

The casting by Venus Kanani and Mary Vernieu is brilliant as it includes some notable small appearances from M.C. Gainey as a priest, Aaron Hendry and Michael Yurchak as English beer-drinkers, Candace Smith as a drunken fantasy of Badinrath, Philippe Brennikmeyer as the Beerfest referee, Bjorn Johnson as a German man that would take the Wolfhouse brothers to Beerfest, Blanchard Ryan as Landfill’s wife, and James Roday as an unfortunate messenger who would bring von Wolfhausen the beer that his American relatives have brewed. The film also features some very funny cameos from Willie Nelson at the end of the film and Donald Sutherland as the Wolfhouse brothers grandfather. Mo’Nique is hilarious as Gam-Gam’s nurse Cherry who is very funny about the things she says while Cloris Leachman is a riot as the Wolfhouse’ great-grandmother Gam-Gam who always say filthy scenes while carrying a secret about the family.

In the role of the German team, Nat Faxon, Will Forte, Eric Christian Olsen, Ralf Moeller, and Gunter Schlierkamp are excellent as they all have some funny lines to say while Jurgen Prochnow is superb as their leader Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen as he gets some funny things to say including references to Das Boot which he was in. Finally, there’s the Broken Lizard troupe in truly remarkable roles with Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter in terrific performances as Todd and Jan Wolfhouse, respectively, as the two brothers who are eager to seek vengeance for their grandfather and great-grandmother’s honor. Steve Lemme is very funny as the Jewish scientist Fink as he tries to discover the secret of Das Boot while bringing some funny Jewish humor. Kevin Heffernan is a riot as Landfill as a former beer-drinker who is eager to help the gang as this beer-drinking machine. Finally, there’s Jay Chandrasekhar as the troubled Barry Badinrath as a man on hard times who joins the team to try and redeem himself while dealing with his own demons in the past involving ping-pong.

Beerfest is an excellent film from Jay Chandrasekhar and the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Not only is it a fun film to watch but also one that has some substance and characters to root for. Even as it is plays into the craziness of beer-drinking competitions and beer-drinking games in a worldwide forum. In the end, Beerfest is a marvelous film from Broken Lizard.

Broken Lizard Films: (Puddle Cruiser) - Super Troopers - Club Dread - (The Slammin’ Salmon)

© thevoid99 2014

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