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Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006 07:27 am

Hopped up

You may need a beer – or four – to enjoy Beerfest

Beerfest Running Time: 1:50 Rated R

There’s a warning at the beginning of Broken Lizard’s Beerfest, the comedy troupe’s latest celebration of bad taste. The drinkers portrayed in the film, it advises, are professionals, and “if you attempt to drink this much, you will die!” This is the only courtesy afforded the audience, which, for the next hours and 50 minutes, endures the sight of grown men drinking ram’s urine, a dead corpse pinning a mourner to the floor, sexually stimulated toads, and hefty comedienne Mo’Nique in the throes of sexual passion. You know, good ol’ American fun.

Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) run a successful German eatery, Schitzengiggle, and are content looking after their beloved Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman). However, their world is turned upside down when their grandfather dies and they’re charged with taking his remains back to the Fatherland during Oktoberfest. Once in Germany, they discover an international beer-drinking contest. It’s bad enough that the United States, isn’t represented, but Jan and Todd are in for a greater shock when they learn that Grandfather was a thief who stole a secret beer recipe from the powerful Wolfhausen family, led by the stern Baron Wolfgang (Jürgen Prochnow).

If you’ve ever played a drinking game, chances are it will turn up here in an exaggerated, humorous form. The scenes in which the international teams go toe to toe in these beer-drinking bouts are great fun, mainly because the performers involved take such a serious approach to them.

As with Lizard’s two previous efforts, the effective Super Troopers and the dismal Club Dread, Beerfest is a scattershot affair. At times inspired and at others groan-inducing, at the very least it must be said that Broken Lizard aims to please. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that Beerfest plays better if you have a beer — or four — while watching it. Thank goodness for home video.

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