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Total Crap86.67%

2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
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by Erik Childress

"Tucker: The Man And His Bullshit"
1 stars

In this year’s wonderful romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer, there’s a scene in which a guy tries to hit on Zooey Deschanel. Even though its evidently clear she’s there with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the guy continues to make his play and further puts down her choice of suitor until he is eventually punched. The gag is that the good guy is actually punched back and the scene ends. This third wheel is appropriately labeled as “D-Bag” in the closing credits. We see one of these guys in probably two-thirds of rom-coms as the guy the heroine is foolishly dating but only the audience and the guy she’s meant to be with can see that. These guys are also known to populate any number of fratboy comedies for the shy guy, nerds or more charismatic fratboy to overcome. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell may be the first film to ever jump off from the perspective of a Van Wilder villain and by the time this vile, amateurish and supposed true story is over, you may feel as if you’ve just spent 100 minutes looking through Michael Myers’ first mask.

The D-Bag in question is named Tucker Max (Matt Czuchry) who opens the film with the cops busting in on him while he’s screwing a deaf girl. Consentually, to be fair. She loves it. But this is not a film that opens with a whimper. This conquest, after one of a mute, brings our hero “two-thirds of a way to a Helen Keller.” His best friend, Dan (Geoff Stults), is about to get married and he wants to introduce him to the pleasures of a strip club without a “no touch” policy. Haven’t these rich jagbags ever been to Vegas? Their other friend, Drew (Jesse Bradford), has just lost his fiance when he caught her giving oral lessons to a white rapper, turning him into a woman-hating depressive that spouts enough anti-female rhetoric for Andrea Dworkin to pen a new book from the grave.

Tucker drives the pair out to Salem for this so-called experience, against the wishes of Dan’s fiance (Keri Lynn Pratt) whose fervently religious parents won’t even allow a bouncy castle at the wedding because it’s evil. Nothing is said if they’ve ever met Tucker, who begins the evening integrating his pals into a bachelorette party with dirty toasts and charmed insults. When they find the strip club, things don’t begin so smoothly as Drew’s contempt for these “whores” reaches a fever pitch. That is, until, he meets Lara (Marika Dominczyk), a dancer who can give as good as she gets – on the insult level – and challenges his bruised ego with an evening of geek knowledge and a Halo competition. With Drew taking off and Tucker engaging in his own personal conquest, Dan is left to ponder getting caught in a lie, drinking too much and ending up on his own in a situation to jeopardizes his wedding and his friendships.

And what a friendship it is, huh? While Dan is kinda portrayed as the most milquetoast of the trio, you have to wonder precisely how innocent he is if he’s hung around with Tucker for this long. No background is provided to their relationship. We assume he is Dan’s Best Man considering he’s putting together the bachelor party. But seeing as how Dan’s brother announces himself as such, was Tucker just bumped down the list? Drew’s not even in the wedding party and none of the others were even invited to Salem. These are minute details, but by concentrating on them I am able to distract myself from ever having to remember meeting these characters in any capacity.

Let’s start with Drew. Any guy can understand, if not relate first-hand, being spurned by a woman in this capacity. Depression is a natural symptom. You might even see the face of your cheatin’ fiance on the head of every woman who crosses your path. It’s very likely you would have some less than flattering things to say about the opposite sex. Drew though takes it well beyond the boundaries of acceptable comic rage. He may have a literate streak that puts a spin on the dialogue that would make Neil LaBute wince, but Drew quickly resembles a loose cannon that we fully expect to punch a woman in the eye if she so much looks at him the wrong way. There’s an aching discomfort in the language he uses in their presence and as he won’t let up in the endless sparring with Lara, any sympathy for his situation is long gone. I don’t care why he suddenly changes his tune when he discovers Lara has a son, nor should we be influenced by the soft music underscoring this new bonding moment since we just want to see the guy tazed as soon as humanly possible.

Then there’s Tucker Max himself. Until this movie I had never heard of the guy and his brand of “fratire” that graced the New York Times best seller list. Seriously, had to look the guy up. But you never get a second chance to make a first impression and this is what I got out of his big screen escapades. Tucker Max (the character) may be the biggest douchebag to ever have a movie made about him. Douchebag being a more casual conventional term, of course. Hitler and Ted Bundy have their own, more severe, classifications. Let me make it clear. Tucker Max never hits a woman nor resorts to date rape (as far as we know.) But he’s a terrible friend; a selfish pig who buys his way out of trouble and reduces women’s self-esteem until they’re ready to bed him down. I don’t care how much he says he loves women or how much he knows about the rights of dwarfs in the workplace, spending an hour-and-a-half in his shoes is as unclean as you’re likely to feel in a long time.

Matt Czuchry enters the film from my memory fresh from playing another rich D-bag in Gilmore Girls, as the boyfriend of Rory’s that fans hoped wouldn’t survive that parachute accident. He’s certainly swinging for the fences here with a bat corked full of water, vinegar and hot air. It could be a dead-on performance, but its no less endearing. Consider the two bar scenes in the film. The first involves Tucker hitting on a waitress only to be told by the bartender that he’s being disrespectful and not to talk to her that way. The second with the aforementioned bachelorettes involves a character who calls Tucker out for his behavior and berating her fellow partygoers for encouraging him. If these were instruments introduced to provide the slow burn lesson for Tucker to change his ways or clue his own friends into his douchebaggery, then the film might have something. Instead, Tucker Max (screenwriter) and co-writer Nils Parker represent the bartender and this frowning feminist as buzzkills getting in the way of Tucker’s good time. It’s quite an achievement actually to make the audience turn against these characters and see them as weak and shrewish. For those who feel sorry for Dan, don’t forget that he’s the one who threatens the bartender when he makes a move to teach Tucker a lesson.

I actually do hope they serve beer in hell for when Tucker Max arrives. Spiked with the same substance that leads to the film’s 10-minute comic centerpiece that involves Tucker and a married woman (played by Traci Lords) that he’s just seduced having to release their bowels during sex. In what’s supposed to be Tucker’s “moment of clarity”, he’s forced to find a hotel lobby toilet while visibly soiling his underwear until it graphically spills out all over the floor and into not one, but two toilets. Three if you count the one that the former porn star overflowed upstairs. Director Bob Gosse has no grasp on what this material is supposed to be. There’s not a sympathetic figure on hand save for Marika Dominczyk’s Lara who is as delightful and beautiful as the rest of the film is ugly. Every conversation and practically every line reading is done in singular close-ups and Gosse never knows when to cut himself out of a scene. You could be a relative, close pal or just an ignorant fratboy and know when enough is enough of Tucker and Drew.

Perhaps I was too tough on Julie Powell last month in suggesting that her self-fulfilling blog had no basis for a feature film in her name. Whatever Tucker Max’s story truly is, I can’t imagine why this or any other was deserving of one either. As ribald bachelor party stories go, this is well behind the violent hijinks of Very Bad Things or the extremes of the witless (and unconscionably popular) The Hangover from this summer. The barely 20 minutes of time spent in the club only results in bad vibes for one of the guys (since the other two get laid.) In the end, Tucker doesn’t really learn anything, crashing Dan’s wedding and shocking the attendees with TMI details of that evening’s exploits. Long looks in the mirror and the innocence of young children aren’t enough to make up for what a horrible character Tucker Max truly is. For a comedy like this to work we either have to like these people or understand their less-than-stellar behavior is to be mocked or looked down upon by those surrounding them. We like Otter from Animal House, Seth & Evan from Superbad and we’re aware that Banky’s hate speech from Chasing Amy can be funny as long as its identified as such. No one has pointed that out to Tucker Max yet apparently. And until women stop lowering themselves to match Drew’s vision of them and fratboys keep enabling the stories and philosophy Tucker’s peddling, there will be real-life sequels popping up all over college campuses. And yes, they serve beer there.

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originally posted: 09/25/09 14:00:00
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User Comments

1/30/10 dan Movie's dope 5 stars
1/05/10 JoJo Movie RULES. 5 stars
11/15/09 Alan Moore sucks total ass. Fuck you Tucker you unfunny asshole 1 stars
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  25-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 26-Jan-2010


  DVD: 26-Jan-2010

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