R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jay Chandrasekhar
scr Broken Lizard
with Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Jay Chandrasekhar, Cloris Leachman, Juergen Prochnow, Mo'Nique, MC Gainey, Eric Christian Olsen, Donald Sutherland, Willie Nelson
release US 25.Aug.06, UK 8.Sep.06
06/US Warner 1h52

Stick das boot in: Heffernan, Chandrasekhar, Soter, Stolhanske and Lemme

leachman prochnow mo'nique

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Beerfest Broken Lizard's brand of raucous, politically incorrect humour is bound to spark laughs, but the film as a whole is annoyingly underdeveloped and not nearly funny enough to sustain its long running time.

When their grandfather (Sutherland) dies, brothers Jan and Todd (Soter and Stolhanske) head to Germany to inter his ashes, at the wishes of their great grandma (Leachman). But in Munich, they discover two things: a secret-society international beer-drinking contest and the fact that their branch of the brewery-owning family is hated back in the old country. So they return home, gather their three buddies (good-time boy Heffernan, nerdy scientist Lemme and loverboy Chandrasekhar) and embark on a rigid training regime so they can return next year and regain their family honour.

Basically, the plot is just an excuse for silly, drunken antics, most of which are hysterically goofy. We laugh at the sheer energy on display, and the willingness of these five guys to make absolute morons of themselves as they commit fully to every gag. About a third of it is truly inspired; but for every intelligent or subtle joke, there are two that are overworked and unfunny.

It's refreshing that these guys clearly aren't bound to Hollywood's illusions of propriety. They merrily romp through jokes involving death and violence (a couple of off-screen executions), sex (including completely gratuitous nudity and lots of gay innuendo), ethnicity and anything else they can think of. Although it's hard to get offended when they're obviously only here to have fun.

No one outside this five-man ensemble gets much of a role. Leachman occasionally achieves Frau Blucher wackiness, although some of her dialog is deeply cringeworthy. Prochnow is merely on hand as the token authentic German, subjected to endless Das Boot jokes (the first sight-gag was mildly amusing). Mo'Nique is funny in a ridiculously underused role. The other women are slabs of meat.

Late-night viewers with a few pints under their belt will no doubt adore this film, as will anyone who likes to mock people, Napoleon Dynamite-style. But those looking for actual comedy may need something stronger than beer afterwards.

cert 15 themes, language, vulgarity, violence, sexuality 23.Aug.06

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall