‘Beer in Hell’ is Crass and Bold
"American Pie"? Kid stuff. "Wedding Crashers"? Stuck in a ditch. "Old School," it's time to meet the new school, because "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" is the Armageddon of gross-out sex comedies.
Seriously, this movie just might mark the end of civilization.
Vile, hateful and undeniably funny, "Beer in Hell" is based on the bestselling book by Tucker Max. He writes the popular blog TuckerMax.com, where he details an endless series of debauches involving alcohol, casual sex and other bodily functions. Warning: Don't try visiting it from your workplace PC.
The film is a highly fictionalized version of just one of those stories, in which Tucker, played by former "Gilmore Girls" bad boy Matt Czuchry, drags two of his friends to a strip club that doesn't have a no-touching rule. The misadventures that ensue would be fairly standard comedy fare, except the characters and the dialogue are a lot smarter, and a whole lot more vicious, than anything Owen or Luke Wilson would risk their careers on.
Tucker, both the character and the writer, isn't your average tail-chasing horndog. He's quick-witted and educated, with just enough self-awareness to create the illusion that his ugly humor is ironic and that deep down he's a good guy. Presumably this gets him even more sex.
Then there's Tucker's pal Drew (Jesse Bradford), who's bitter over a recent breakup and joins the strip-club outing so he can call as many women "whore" to their faces as possible. His version of witty banter goes over the line between sexist insult and verbal assault. Way over. Unpublishably over.
Later in the evening, he calls this his "standoffish humor" in a tender moment with the sassy stripper who takes him home in order to deflate his masculine ego by beating him at Halo. Of course they end up having sex, after putting her young son to bed. And in Tucker Max world, this sort of behavior isn't just acceptable, it's "redemptive."
The insidious genius of this comedy is that it builds in just enough obligatory narrative elements - mistakes, consequences, change - to establish the pretense that it is a standard morality tale, a warning against doing as Tucker does. But it's all a lie. His climactic epiphany registers about a 1.3 on the Richter scale (although much, much higher on the hilarity scale), and his big apology is merely a monument to his own selfishness.
The New York Times labeled Tucker Max's brand of humor "fratire," but unlike the similarly outrageous "Borat," ''Beer in Hell" only seems to offer social satire, while in fact it glorifies self-indulgence and perpetual adolescence. It is an ode to male narcissism.
One-upping the oh-no-you-didn't shock value of the raunch-com genre, it almost reaches "Borat" depths for jokes you feel guilty laughing at. Except that the hordes of Tucker Max wannabes who will be lining up for this film probably don't feel guilty at all.
Rated R for nudity, strong sexual content including graphic dialogue throughout, language and some crude material.