Cinema Connoisseur: Beerfest brews up big laughs
The Broken Lizard gang that brought you the cult hit Super Troopers returned to the big screen in 2006 to tackle a subject that is very near and dear to my heart, and a great deal of yours as well — beer.
Making a film about a popular beverage is always difficult, as was shown by the release of Cranberry Juice: A Tale of Courage - what was Martin Scorsese thinking? Luckily, Beerfest more than does justice to the liquid it is named after.
In Beerfest, a pair of brothers travel to Germany to spread the ashes of their recently departed grandfather. Canadian acting legend Donald Sutherland portrays their grandfather — not in ashes form (although he is that great that I do believe he could pull of that performance), but instead he is shown in a video, which he taped before passing on. If you ever wanted to see Donald Sutherland chug beer and belch, and really who wouldn't, then this might be your only chance. Don't pass it up.
While in Germany, the brothers stop by Oktoberfest, and managed to bring the festival to a halt through sheer buffoonery, which includes them trying to lead everyone in a rendition of “99 Bottles of Beer,” and accidentally causing no fewer than seven wardrobe malfunctions. As the two Americans are running to avoid the wrath of the other Oktoberfest patrons, they discover another fest — Beerfest.
Among the activities involved in Beerfest are Beer Pong, quarters and good old-fashioned chugging. The chugging in this case also involves drinking out of Das Boot, a giant beer glass shaped like a boot. I've been given the boot from many bars, but never quite like this.
The American brothers find they are not welcome at Beerfest. The head of the tournament, Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen claims that their grandfather stole a beer recipe from him, and that their great grandmother was a common whore. The brothers are humiliated and travel back to America. Not without vowing revenge, however.
They set out to clear their family's name and win the following year's Beerfest tournament. They assemble a team, which consists of themselves and their old college-drinking buddies. Joining the bros are a man who got fired from a brewery for drinking too much on the job, a scientist who develops formulas for optimal drinking techniques, and a male prostitute who once dominated sport of beer games.
The film chronicles their year-long quest for excellence, culminating with their appearance at Beerfest, as they take on the finest that countries such Ireland, Canada and Japan have to offer. Do they win the tournament? Do they gain revenge on the German team? Does Willie Nelson make a cameo? For those answers, do yourself a favour and see the film.
If you find yourself feeling down, and you don't have any booze in your dwelling to drown away your sorrows, pop in the copy of Beerfest that I assume you just bought. The big laughs it provides will certainly be the cure for what ales you!