It's tempting to hate a movie about a self-described a--hole because you hate the title character for being an a--hole. That would be wrong.
Too many reviewers give ducks bad reviews for quacking.
In fact, there's something oddly fascinating about someone who has made millions being unrepentent about his own reprehensible behavior. There is a real unrestrained narcissist named Tucker Max, whose drinking episodes culminate variously in degrading sexual misadventures, vomit and, in more than one story, unrestrained defecation. He is without remorse over these events and any sore feelings left in his wake -- indeed, he writes about them in a popular blog and has sold a million copies of books reprinting them.
All hail the decline of Western civilization.
Actually, Tucker Max's own rise to popular infamy might make a decent darkly funny movie -- a sour, piggish, blog-story counterpoint to Julie & Julia. But there I go, writing about the movie they should have made, instead of the literal pile of crap they did.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is an extrapolation of one story in Max's oeuvre, a tale of a bachelor party/road-trip gone wrong that the studio is clearly marketing for its superficial similarities to The Hangover, except it isn't the least bit funny. Big mistake.
It means viewers unfamiliar with the Howard Stern-ish appeal of its real-life protagonist go in conditioned to see good-hearted schlemiels caught up in zany events, like some kind of post-grad Porky's.
Instead, they get a scarily sociopathic lead character leading two good-hearted schlemiels to a dark place (a strip club to be precise) with an ulterior motive and virtually no concern for what happens to them (bad stuff in one case). Warning: moviegoers with no pre-existing predisposition to find other people's humiliation -- usually women's -- hilarious may feel the need for a shower afterwards.
Tucker, played by Gilmore Girls' Matt Czuchry with a kind of Christian Slater/Jack Nicholson verbal sneer, is introduced at a law class he seldom attends, running rings of logic around the irked professor, bragging about "banging" a deaf girl and mocking the sounds she made during sex. The only interest he shows in class is when the discrimination case of a "little person" stripper comes up.
Thus characterized, Tucker sets the movie's plot in motion by convincing his engaged friend Dan (Geoff Stultz) and recently-dumped nerd friend Drew (Jesse Bradford) that a road trip is in order -- this despite the imminent visit of Dan's Fundamentalist Christian mother-in-law. A lie later and the three are on the road.
What all three have in common is a sense of intellectual superiority to everyone they meet -- particularly the women. Tucker's m.o. is to sweet-talk the women in bars, and having caught their attention, unleash a stream of profane vitriol against their entire sex with a just-joking smile.
Of course, Hollywood wouldn't greenlight something like this if there wasn't something incongruously heart-warming injected into the plot. It's part of the studio code. All we'll say is it involves Drew.
The ending, while consistent with the dislikable character we've gotten to know, conveys a meaninglessness that might play well as one of Max's real-life blog entries, but somehow loses what passes for charm in depiction.
Or in simple terms: talking about sh--ing yourself is not as off-putting as seeing it.
(This film is rated 18-A)
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