It's hard to know what's worse about I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell-- the clumsy, barely coherent filmmaking from director Bob Gosse, the selfish and soulless trio of main characters at its center, or the fact that the whole thing somehow reflects the real life and philosophy of one Tucker Max, the Internet icon who made millions with his true stories of drunken exploits that vaguely resemble those shown in the film. It's a terrible movie in pretty much every sense of the word.
Even though Max's stories are successful because they are so unique and bizarre, the plot of Beer In Hell is ridiculously generic. Three pals-- fun-loving Tucker (Max Czuchry), misanthropic Drew (Jesse Bradford) and bland, about-to-be-married Dan (Geoff Stults)-- head off for an evening at a strip club to celebrate Dan's pending nuptials. The trip requires lying to Dan's fiancee Kristy (Keri Lynn Pratt), whom Tucker addresses as if she's eight years old, and enduring Drew's road trip paean to something called "the pancakewich," a digression complete with fantasy sequences that goes nowhere, and quickly indicates that that's exactly where the movie is going too.
Most of the plot, such as it is, takes place at the strip club, where Tucker insults a handful of strippers, Dan accidentally reveals their actual location to Kristy, and Drew falls hard for a geeky stripper (Marika Domincyzk), a single mom who later kicks his ass at Halo. Dan lands in jail after an accident, Drew learns to stop hating all women, and Tucker fulfills a lifelong fantasy that, if you're actually willing to pay money to see this movie, I won't bother ruining for you.
The strip club sequence seems to go on forever, but what drags even worse is the third-act redemption, in which Tucker figures out why he shouldn't constantly dick over his friends after an incident involving upset bowels, a hotel bathroom and an irritated, silent Mexican maid. The whole interlude, while having little to do with the rest story, bears the closest resemblance to Max's actual tales, but still relies too much on obvious sound effects and tired poop jokes to make any real shocking impact. Tucker's other exploits, including the midget sex and an early scene with a deaf girl, are equally unrelated to the story, and on film seem a lot less shocking than they did when told in Max's "dude, you'll never believe what happened to me last night" tone.
But even if Beer In Hell had stuck closer to the stories that made Max famous, it still would have been intolerable thanks to the thoroughly unlikeable main characters. The worst offender is Drew, who might be the awkward geek worth rooting for if a recent breakup hadn't rendered him so misogynistic and angry that nearly every sentence out of his mouth is something along the lines of "I want to shoot every one of these bitches." Clearly he's being set up for a third-act transformation at the hands of the Halo-playing stripper, but he's so loathsome that he doesn't remotely deserve it. Dan, on the other hand, is irritating for his utter lack of personality, his spineless kowtowing to each of Tucker's whims. As Tucker Max Matt Czuchry does his best to capture the winking you-know-you-love-me vibe, but even he sometimes seems embarrassed to be saying the lines written for him.
With the exception of the geeky stripper, who is handed all the female empowerment lines that supposedly make up for the movie's rampant misogyny, all the female characters are either pretty, empty bobbleheads or hideous harridans. The only women in the film who don't find Tucker's condescending patter funny are depicted as ugly, fat, old, or all three; even Kristy, who finally sits Tucker down and explains what a mess he is, falls for his schtick in the end. The movie's entire attitude is "Fuck you if you can't take a joke," with the joke being as insulting and childish as possible, then shrugging as if to say "Guys will be guys!"
For all the rightful criticism it has received, Max's Beer In Hell book is written well and from a unique point of view; any idiot can recount his most drunken nights, but it takes real talent to make it a bestseller. From the poorly timed jokes to the banal plot, there's not a bit of that talent evident in the movie version, even though it was co-written by Max and Nils Parker. In a world in which The Hangover exists, there's no purpose to this movie whatsoever.
Reviewed By: Katey Rich
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