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I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Tucker Max, who has risen to some notoriety since his book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, sold a lot of copies sums himself up on his website like so:
"My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world."
The big screen version of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is, we are to assume, one of those supposed adventures. When the movie begins, Tucker (played by Matt Czurchy) is screwing a woman from behind. The cops bust in, thinking she's being raped. As it turns out, she's deaf, and quite enjoying herself. She lets the cops know this in one of those stereotypical deaf person voices - and we're off and running. Tucker catches up with his friends, the narcissistic Drew (Jesse Bradford) who has recently broken up with his girlfriend after catching her giving head to a rapper named Grillionaire and the somewhat normal Dan (Geoff Stults), who is engaged and soon to be married. We meet up with three of them the day before Dan's bachelor party.
After a day in class, the three of them are law students, where they debate the merits of 'midget strippers' the pair decide to head two and a half hours away from home to visit a strip club that Tucker claims is worth the drive. There they 'encourage you to grab their tits' and will be far more forgiving than any of the local clubs. Dan's fiancé, Kristy (Keri Lynn Pratt), isn't keen on Dan travelling so far away when their big day is closing in and there's so much work to do, so Tucker blatantly lies to her about where they're going. They head to Salem to find the club, insult a bachelorette party to warm up, drink a lot, and eventually wind up at the peeler joint where Drew inexplicably hooks up with a hot single mom working the pole while Dan gets wasted, kicked out, tossed in jail and beaten up by the cops. Tucker? He's out on a conquest of his own, but discussing that further would spoil the movie and as tempting as it is to do just that, it just wouldn't be right. Let it suffice to say that before the night is over, people will poop their pants, drink a lot, use every misogynist term you can think of, and one luck guy will make out with Tracey Lords in a bathroom.
If your average sex comedy/frat boy party film, let's use the American Pie or Van Wilder films as a point of reference here, aren't crass or sexist enough for you, then I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is the movie for you. Rare is a picture that's so completely full of sexist and misogynist behavior all in the name of supposed comedy. The picture tries, in vein, to add some touching moments by forcing the three central characters into their own revelation or life experience, but it's predictable, inevitable even. By the time we get there, you've pretty much decided that all three of them are total assholes and deserve whatever dire predicament they may find themselves in. This makes it impossible to sympathize with any of the male characters in the film. Making the finale feel as forced as it is contrived. There's no redemption here, only a copout.
In the film's defense, it's obvious that there are people out there like the characters in this movie and that some of the experiences depicted in this film are not outside the realm of possibility. They're unlikely, but not necessarily unrealistic. Geared towards a male audience, who should to some extend understand the need to cut loose for a guy's night out now and then, it seems to expect the audience to see the humanity of its characters underneath all the mistreatment of women and selfish behavior. The problem is, there isn't any. It's hard to imagine very many people out there being able to relate to Max or his cohorts and those who can to any serious degree should probably be neutered.
There are a couple of moments that elicit a few laughs, and not so surprisingly these tend to come from the female characters' comebacks rather than from Max and company, but not enough to save the film. Harsh language, rampant boozing and gratuitous nudity are all good things and they definitely have their place in the sex comedy world, but there's just not much more to I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell than that, and after the initial intended shock value wares off, the film is dull. The film openly berates women, that's part of its hook and presumably what gives it its edge, and obviously the Tucker Max character we see in the film is exaggerated to a certain extent, but that hardly redeems this boring mess of a film and by the time it's all finished, you kind of wonder what the point was. This isn't offensive so much as it is boring and predictable.The DVD
Fox's 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this disc generally looks pretty good. Some of the darker scenes show some mild compression artifacts and a few shots look just a little bit on the soft side but this is generally a good looking picture all nitpicking aside. Skin tones look good, detail is as strong as you'd expect it to be and the image is free of any harsh edge enhancement. Black levels stay pretty strong through some of the shots at the strip club don't have the greatest shadow detail ever but, at the same time, if you've ever frequented a gentleman's club before, you know that very often the lighting isn't exactly film friendly, nor should it be, so in that regard the transfer is actually pretty realistic. Or so I've been lead to believe.Sound:
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, which comes with optional subtitles in English and Spanish, sounds pretty good. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand and the levels are well balanced. The strip club scenes offer up some nice directional effects and rear channel action and while this is a primarily dialogue based movie, some ambient and background effects fill things out nicely. The score sounds good, it's got some nice punch to it, and there aren't any problems to report with hiss or distortion. The movie sounds quite good, really.
Extras are slim on this release. You'll find trailers for three unrelated Fox releases and roughly twenty-four minutes of Outtakes, which provides more footage in the bar, the strip club, and other locations the film plays out in. Most of these are alternate takes and extensions and don't really offer up much of interest. Static menus and chapter selection are also included.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell isn't funny, intelligent, or moving in any way shape or form. Yes, it's profane, it's crass, and ridiculous but that doesn't make it worthwhile or interesting. The disc is light on extras and as such there isn't a whole lot in the way of added value here though to Fox's credit, at least it looks and sounds pretty good. Those who enjoyed the movie will probably be fine with the presentation, but really, it's hard to find much of worth here. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.