When their grandfather Johann (Donald Sutherland) dies, Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) agree to take his ashes from Colorado back to the family resting grounds in Munich. They arrive in Munich for Oktoberfest and discover that the family resting ground is at a competition called Beerfest, in which nations compete in beer drinking games. The Americans are humiliated by the German team and sent packing. Back in Colorado, Jan and Todd assemble a team of beer drinkers - Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar), a male prostitute; Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), ex-convict and eating champion, and Finkelstein (Steve Lemme), a Jewish geek, to go back and rescue their Beerfest pride.
Review by Joel Meares:
Beerfest is the type of broad strokes comedy in which fat characters are hot dog eating champions, Australians are in the navy or dress like Jackaroos, and Germans are a beer-chugging cross between Captain von Trapp, Hitler and Heidi. There are liberal splashings of fleshy female chests, an extraordinary anal fixation, and litre upon litre of beer. It is, for its indulgent one hundred and ten minute running time, like being trapped in a fraternity house for whatever came before Neanderthals. It is also, surprisingly, rather fantastic.
Jay Chandrasekhar elevates his film above the usual teen romp Porky's dross by infusing it with an appealing sense of the madcap. While he dabbles rather deeply in potentially offensive racial and sexual stereotypes, he does it with a relentless conviction that pushes the film into the realm of fantasy. The Germans are so extravagantly German and Finkelstein so Woody Allen, that not a second of the narrative or characters is believable. Such a disconnection from reality is usually a problem for comedies, but here it seems to work, smoothing over any insults the film's broad brushstrokes might make. It also allows it to plough further in its mission to shock. Thus, the script brings ping pong paddles to its anal interest, literalises the idea of the world's oldest profession and performs a masterful replay of the drunken night out, sans beer goggle perspective.
What makes Beerfest a treat for those who might not usually enjoy such fare are the less broadcaste moments that happen at the corner of the screen, or below the general hubbub. The actors playing the German team have a ball hamming it up, and occasionally let slip a barely audible gem. I also liked Finkelstein's "Did he say Hebrew?" when someone is explaining that "He brew a..."
The film is far from perfect, but appealing in its roughness. It is rather drab to look at, captured with pedestrian direction and the two leads don't really have chutzpah. It is also far too long and contains not a fresh plot idea. Despite it all, it manages a freshness of its own, and had the audience in which I saw it cheering, laughing and occasionally gagging.
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CAST: Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Jay Chandrasekhar, Cloris Leachman, Donald Sutherland, Jürgen Prochnow, Cameron Scher, Owain Yeoman, Tom Tate, Allan Graf, Chris Moss, Bjorn Johnson,
PRODUCER: Bill Gerber, Steve Lemme, Scott Mednick, Richard Perello, Erik Stolhanske
DIRECTOR: Jay Chandrasekhar
SCRIPT: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Frank G. DeMarco
EDITOR: Lee Haxall
MUSIC: Nathan Barr
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clark Hunter
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 28, 2006
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.