Max's vulgar film pathetic, rarely funny
I’m not sure if they serve beer in hell, but they definitely serve buttered popcorn and fountain drinks. Let me clarify, “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell,” a motion picture based on Tucker Max’s novel with the same name, was hell to sit through.
Now, before you all ask, I didn’t read the book before seeing the film; however, I did read a handful of the short stories on Max’s Web site, www.tuckermax.com, specifically the one about Tucker drilling a little person.
The source material is vulgar and controversial, which — I’m guessing here — is the reason behind its success. I didn’t find the short stories to be funny, but I understood the target audience Max was going for. Judging from the crowd’s reaction, if you liked the book, you might like the movie.
The book autobiographically chronicles Max’s late night, supposedly true stories. The film still has these stories, but they attempt to weave them into a linear story line. It follows Max (Matt Czuchry) and his two friends, Drew (Jesse Bradford) and Dan (Geoff Stults), as they tear up strip clubs in Salem, Ore. Max is the meathead ringleader of the troop, and Drew is the Halo-obsessed cyber nerd. Dan is probably the most interesting character of the film, as he’s a seemingly decent man who is about to get married, and watching him repeatedly lie to his fiancee — only to genuinely regret it later — is the dramatic anchor of an otherwise pointless merry-go-round of poop gags and sex extremities. It’s like “The Hangover,” but not funny.
The lead performances are the bright spot of “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell,” notably Czuchry as Max and Stults as Dan. Czuchry plays Max with a strangely charming persona, giving Tucker’s character, who is narrow-minded and self-centered, a deeper psyche. Stults is convincing as a man who is caught in the middle of two different worlds.
The central problem, ironically, is Max as a screenwriter, not as a character. His dialogue is gaudy and makes you feel dirty to be alive. Max and co-writer Nils Parker attempt to balance obscenity, potty humor and disgruntled views on sexuality with an uplifting message about friendship, and it’s oddly perplexing.
One minute Tucker Max is pooping on himself; the next, he’s attempting to deliver a life-defining speech at his friend’s wedding, accompanied by light, coming-of-age music and children bouncing on a Bouncy Castle. There’s also a 10 minute scene where Drew and Lara (Marika Dominczyk), an exotic dancer, insult each other back and forth to the point of tedium, and somehow Lara finds it amusing to be called a “dirty whore.”
Sitting through the movie you’ll learn about the “pancakewich” and the “soft off,” but tacky, trend-setting words such as these aren’t durable enough to shelter you from the acid rain that is “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell.”