Appellate Judge Tom Becker hopes they show better movies in Purgatory.
"You wanna pick up sluts to bring them to go see whores?"
There are plenty of lame comedies made by, for, and about 20-somethings, but few are as bitter and unfunny as I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. The smarmy-mouthed, always-horny boys here seem in the throes of a particularly painful midlife crisis rather than the late bloom of youth. I don't think I've ever seen a film in which the main character regarded women so contemptuously and wasn't a serial killer.
Based on a novel that was based on a blog by one Tucker Max, we meet cinema Tucker (Matt Czuchry, Friday Night Lights) having sex with a deaf woman. Because he's so good with the thrust and parry, and because she's so…deaf…her loud, guttural screams attract the attention of the police. Ho ho, Tucker's got another funny story to share, and we get to hear a deaf woman say dirty words to the cops!
After running around campus telling everyone he's had sex with a deaf woman—Tucker's a law student, the type who seems like a smart-mouthed slag but can rattle off precedent as quickly as he can unroll a condom—Tucker meets up with his friends, and we meet up with the meat of the plot. Dan (Geoff Stults, October Road) is getting married, and Tucker and Drew (Jesse Bradford, Swimfan) are taking him to a strip club for his bachelor party.
Dan's a nice guy marrying a surprisingly (for this film) non-venal woman; their only areas of disagreement is his desire to have a "bouncy castle" (one of those kid-party things) at the wedding reception (how sweet and boyish!) and her general and understandable dislike for Tucker. Drew, on the other hand, is a cesspool of vitriol, having just caught his girlfriend performing oral sex on a rapper, so his current philosophy seems to be "All vimmen are whores," which fits in just fine with Tucker's mentality.
Despite promising Dan's fiancée that they'll be going to a local strip club and be home early, Tucker inexplicably whisks them off to another club three hours away. This serves a number of purposes:
• Chance to have the boys cut up during the long car ride
It's really no different than most other road-trip/sex comedies, except that it's nastier. And really unfunny.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell isn't typically unfunny—bad jokes, poor delivery, all that. It's aggravating and disgusting, and really has nothing to redeem it. Tucker is supposed to be our "hero" here, but rather than coming off as a glib, yet endearing, horndog, he's a misogynist slob. This is one of the most pathetic lead characters I've seen, like that old guy who sits at a bar getting increasingly smashed and alienates everyone around him with his loutishness. Matt Czuchry smirks his way through the part like a toddler who's just created a particularly impressive bowel movement. (Speaking of BMs, if, like me, seeing people run around with diarrhea dripping down their legs make you want to vomit, then plan on fast forwarding through the high-larious climax.)
There's nothing here that's witty or clever. The words "sluts" and "whores" are uttered so frequently, that after a while, you become inured to them—a pity, since the whole movie hinges on its ability to "shock" with crude language and non-PC utterances. For instance, here's Drew bemoaning his existence: "Are you saying that Magic Johnson is black and has AIDS and has it better than me?" A corker? You decide.
Besides the insufferable Czuchry, the performances aren't as awful as they should be. Bradford almost rises above the crassness of the dialogue he's given to offer a reasonably amusing portrayal of a schlump, and Stults comes off OK as the beleaguered nice guy groom. As his fiancée, Keri Lynn Pratt (A Single Man) is a little wan but not a shrew, and Marika Dominczy comes off nicely as a friendly stripper who takes to the sad-sack Drew.
Warner Bros. sent out a screener, so it's hard to judge the tech, but while the transfer seems fine, this is still an ugly movie, an off-putting mix of dark and garish. The audio is fine—we have no problem hearing every middle-school level profane and degrading comment. Besides a self-congratulating trailer, the only extra is a collection of deleted and extended scenes.
Like a warm tap from a sludge-filled keg, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Avoid.
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