After reading some of the reviews floating around the internet, I was a bit skeptical coming in to see Tucker Max’s new film “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” Entering the Arclight Dome, I nearly ate shit trying to climb up to the press section on my crutches. Great start. Luckily a cute usher came to my aid, and I got a healthy view of cleavage for my efforts with none of the guilt. And handicapped people think they have it rough.
Without giving too much away, the story centers around three friends Tucker (Matt Czuchry), Drew (Jesse Bradford), and Dan (Geoff Stults) who set off to the holy grail of strip clubs to give the soon-to-be groom, Dan, a bachelor party before he exchanges vows with his adorable fiance Kristy (Keri Lynn Pratt).
Jesse Bradford absolutely stole the show. Drew’s constant barrage of one-liners reminded me of a nerdy, woman-hating Don Rickles. His quick wit is matched only by stripper Lara (Marika Dominczyk) who seems to be the only one to effectively put him in his place.
Czuchry and Stults equally delivered with their performances, the latter carefully acting to counter-balance the former’s raging narcissism. Though most college men wish they could be Tucker, more probably identify with Dan who manages to have fun while being in monogamous relationship.
What I soon learned was that critics who had reviewed the film neglected the most important part of the viewing experience. Was the film funny? Absolutely and undeniably. It accomplished what it set out to do: make the audience hurt with laughter, rarely leaving time for them to breathe.
Max has already caught the attention of feminist groups on his premiere tour. The ironic part about their insistence to protest a film they haven’t seen is that their viewpoint of Max is clearly articulated and framed within the narrative. Many of the female characters reject and call out Tucker for being a misogynist asshole. Two in particular get their sweet revenge, leading to one of the most epic shit scenes in film history (an oft-ignored cinematic staple).
The one disappointing aspect of the premiere experience was the question and answer session. Some of questions had to be among the worst on tour (“Do you get emails about Tucker Max death mix?” “Can you re-enact the Tucker/Slingblade dialog from the book?” “Can we see your ass?”… asked by a dude). Luckily M.C. Bill Dawes was able to save the sinking ship by humorously deflecting the lame requests.
I wanted to hear Tucker expand more on the unique approach to making and releasing the film. Few times has an independent film with broad comic appeal seen wide release and even fewer have seen box office success. The fact that he’s opted not to go the traditional distribution route but instead chosen to self-release makes it all the more remarkable. But make no mistake, if Tucker is successful in his approach, he could be to film what Trent Reznor is to the music industry.
Tucker and Nils mentioned that they had plans for sequels with everyone in the cast signed on with the exception of Bradford. I can’t really blame Jesse though, his role made the film and he’s going to be looking for a huge payday after the final box office receipts have been tallied. He’d be worth every penny.
Additional highlights include:
-Drew Curtis of Fark referencing the Glenn Beck 1990 rape joke of which a handful in the crowd got.
–Mark Ebner’s catcalls from the press gallery.
-An Armenian apologizing for the existence of Glendale. Long overdue, I might add.
*It’s a well known fact that every movie review title must contain an oh-so-clever pun. Hey, I don’t make the rules.