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After a humiliating false start in Germany's super-secret underground beer competition, America's unlikely team vows to risk life, limb and liver to dominate the ultimate chug-a-lug championship. The laughs are on the haus!
For more about Beerfest and the Beerfest Blu-ray release, see Beerfest Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 3, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan (I), Ralf Moeller, M.C. Gainey, Paul Soter, Cloris Leachman
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
» See full cast & crew
Beerfest Blu-ray Review
An original and over-the-top beer-guzzling movie makes for a decent Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 3, 2007
All tied up! Sudden death! You know what that means...Das Boot!
I'll give Beerfest one thing: it's certainly original. The entire movie revolves around beer-- the making of beer, the consumption of beer, an international beer drinking competition and beer-induced drunken antics. Five American "athletes," a ragtag bunch of heavy drinkers, spend a year in "training" to participate in "Beerfest," an international competition held in Germany where, in the end, the German and American teams will compete for the ultimate prize--a brewery. This is no ordinary brewery. It's an old family brewery, and members of both the German and American teams happen to be kin and both feel they are the rightful heirs/owners.
Beerfest boils down to this: Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, Super Troopers) are brothers whose grandfather and owner of the Schnitzengiggle tavern, Johann von Wolfhausen (Donald Sutherland, Reign Over Me), has recently passed away. Jan and Todd must take his ashes back to Germany. They are reluctant to do so until their potty-mouthed grandmother Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman, Bad Santa) informs them that they will be attending Oktoberfest whilst properly disposing of grandfather's ashes. That magical word which symbolizes beer, beer, beer, beer, Germany, beer, women, and beer, gets them on a plane to Deutschland in a hurry. After crashing a party (literally), the brothers are escorted to an underground facility where "Beerfest" is held. The German National Team has just demolished the good 'ole Irish squad and are outraged when they find that Americans have been brought into their hallowed halls. Jan and Todd discover that they are kin to the German team and are soon taught a lesson in rapid beer consumption.
After returning to the United States, the brothers decide that they must defend their honor and assemble a team of old drinking chums that they believe will stand the best shot to defeat the Germans. Their first choice is Landfill (Kevin Heffernan, Sky High), a hot dog eating champ and proponent of and participant in "Hands Across America" who was fired from a brewery for drinking product on the job, straight off the assembly line. The second drinker they recruit is a scatterbrained Jewish scientist named Fink (Steve Lemme, The Dukes of Hazzard). If anyone can solve the mystery of "Das Boot" (see below), it's Fink. Finally, The brothers recruit Barry Badrinath (Jay Chandrasekhar, Club Dredd). Barry was once the best there was at all the beer games in college, including quarters, but the catch is that he is only good when he is drunk. The five begin training in a back room at the Schnitzengiggle, complete with a drip-drop beer dispenser, a ping pong table, and, of course, plenty of beer with which to vigorously train their muscles, minds, and livers to stand up against the venerable and veteran German squad.
There is more back story here involving an ancient beer recipe, espionage, murder, and just who the rightful heir of the Wolfhausen brewery is, but let's be honest: you're not going to watch Beerfest for anything but the crude jokes, scantly clad German waitresses, and the unworldy amounts of adult beverages being consumed on screen. It's actually funnier than most movies of this ilk that I've seen, and it stoops rather low when the punch line for some of the cruder jokes are revealed. The acting in Beerfest is over the top all around, especially from the Germans. I found parts of the movie quite hilarious, and other parts completely stupid. I especially enjoyed the ode to one of the greatest films of all time, the WWII submarine flick Das Boot (Jürgen Prochnow even has a role in this film). Here, "Das Boot" is boot-shaped beer stein that causes the drinker to spill beer out of it while chugging, and solving the secret of drinking from it whilst refraining from a disqualifying spillage in the final confrontation is the key to becoming champions of Beerfest. Other inside jokes include making fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent, a poke at Sly Stallone's line from First Blood ("I'll give you a war you won't believe"), "always bet on black" from Passenger 57, and, obviously, several Fight Club references. All in all, Beerfest is a pretty funny movie, and it's likely to become a legendary film in and around college campuses everywhere.
Beerfest Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner Brothers presents Beerfest on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition and in its original 2.40:1 wide aspect ratio. This is a very colorful film throughout, appearing vivid, natural, and bright. These vibrant and brilliant colors pop off the screen with great clarity and detail. This is a relatively new movie and, as expected, the print is in pristine condition with no noticeable, nagging problems on the print itself. Beer tones look great. The ale looks freshly brewed, and the golden hue of the drink and the white of the frothy heads look temptingly tasty. Oh, and flesh tones on humans mostly looked fine, too. Despite the great looking color palette and look of the mouthwatering beer, this transfer does suffer from black crush at times. There is some grain (not to mention yeast and hops) here and there, but it's only evident in darker scenes and never a major issue. For the most part, Beerfest looks just fine, and I am sure will look even better after a few cold ones.
Beerfest Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As usual, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is all that Warner Brothers has provided on this disc. All in all, Beerfest sounds just fine. This is a track that is often loud with hard hitting music, and it sounds very natural and pure. Ditto dialogue. As one would expect from this type of film, it's very front heavy with little chance for surrounds to shine. They do on occasion, though, especially in the more rambunctious drinking scenes that bookend the film. I'd rate this track as just about what you'd expect from both a comedy and Warner Brothers. We get a predominantly front heavy track with some nice ambience thrown in here and there on a last-generation Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
Beerfest Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Warner has offered up a plethora of supplements, headed by two commentary tracks. The first features actor-screenwriter Steve Lemme (Fink) and actor-director Jay Chandrasekhar (Barry), which is "by far the more interesting of the two DVD commentaries." This is a lighthearted commentary that mixes humor and detail. It never gets dry, the two never let up, and there are some moments that are as funny as anything in the movie. The second track features actor-screenwriters Kevin Heffernan (Landfill), Paul Soter (Jan), and Erik Stolhankse (Todd). This commentary track is "where the action is." They offer up some funny anecdotes, but this is track offers up more technical and inside information than the other one. There is also some dead air here and there. It's funny, but not as good as the first track.
Party Foul (480p, 9:30) refers to doing something wrong during a drinking party. This is a short feature that provides some funny true-life stories that were inspirations for some scenes in the movie and a real drinking competition held between the cast at the end of the shoot. Frog Fluffer (480p, 4:41) is a look at the rather unorthodox occupation of Fink in the movie and a real-life scientist with a similar job. Beer 101 (480p, 15:03) is an animated history of beer that mixes live action with animation. It is hosted by several members of the cast.
Wrapping up the special features are deleted scenes (480p, 27:04 total length) that are available with two optional commentary tracks featuring the same cast members as the feature length tracks and a theatrical trailer for Beerfest presented in 480p.
Beerfest Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I enjoyed Beerfest more than I expected to. I went in pretty excited if only because the material seemed to be fresh, foamy, and with the potential to be pretty funny. Knowing virtually nothing about the movie before a brief glance on IMDB, I half expected a film where teens get together for a party, find a way to smuggle in a few kegs of beer, get drunk, pass out, and the next morning there is the obligatory "mad scramble" to clean house before mom and dad come back from their weekend getaway. Not here. These are grown men who haven't aged a day since their early twenties, eager to drink for the sake of drinking and getting drunk for the sake of getting drunk, and not being the least bit ashamed about it. Beerfest breaks some new ground but stays true to the proven antics of good comedies, able to put a slightly different spin on some jokes and situations that otherwise have become stale. It's original enough to hide the clichés it embraces at times, but there a few times where the humor escaped me. These moments were few and far between, however. For the most part I enjoyed this movie, and it's pretty typical of your standard Blu-ray fare from a technological standpoint. I'm cautiously recommending Beerfest to mature audiences. I've got the pizza. Who's bringing the beer?
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