Leaving the theatre after seeing “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” I felt as though I was leaving behind a crime scene—a crime against entertainment. This low budget adaptation of a best selling book of the same name by Tucker Max has all the appeal of watching an autopsy. And I don’t mean the safe and sanitary kind of autopsy seen on “CSI”, but the real deal where the medical examiner is covered in gore and noxious fumes fill the air.
As the opening credits say this story is “based on a true story… unfortunately.” The unfortunately is meant to a self-knowing jab at the title character Tucker Max, a narcissistic young man who allows his self interest to affect the lives of everyone around him. It suggests that the screenwriter (whose life inspired the book and the movie) is acknowledging his bullish behavior and saying he has atoned for the events in the story that are about to unfold. If he really wanted to express regret for this story he’d apologize to the audience upfront, and perhaps do them the favor of suggesting they run to get their money back before sitting through anymore of this cheap rip off of The Hangover.
The story begins when Tucker Max (The Gilmour Girls’ Matt Czuchry) uses his “charm” to convince his soon-to-be married friend Dan (Geoff Stults) to lie to his fiancée (Traci Lords) and drive three hours to celebrate his bachelor party at a wild strip club that allows groping and down-and-dirty lap dances. Tagging along for the ride is their depressed friend Drew (Jesse Bradford), a Colin Farrell look-a-like who does little more than whine in a monotonous voice and alienate everyone unfortunate enough to come within a one mile radius. Dropping his friends to pursue a stripper, Tucker sets into motion a series of events that will see Dan thrown in jail on the eve of his wedding. His reckless behavior throws a wedge in their friendship and Tucker must find a way to think about someone other than himself and make amends.
To say that there is a distinct lack of charm to “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” would be an understatement along the lines of suggesting that Jay Leno stopped being funny as soon as he moved to 10 pm. For every line like “we’re gonna fail worse than a “Friends” spinoff” that may raise a smile there are a dozen other gags (literally) about rape, fetal alcohol syndrome and abortion. I know it’s supposed to be an edgy morality tale about the effects of egotism, but even Tucker’s big apology scene, his mea culpa for his self absorbed behavior, is all about him, proving once and for all that he is still a selfish man-child who does whatever he wants. It also means that the movie has no resolution and that the audience has spent ninety minutes in the company of these pathetic excuses for characters for no reason.
It’s all rather unconvincing, unrealistic and given its low production value, unwatchable. That’s to say nothing of the film’s unforgivable misogyny, sexism and a climax that rates among the most unpleasant ever filmed. Finish your popcorn before the bathroom scene… trust me. “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” isn’t just a bad movie; it’s a slap in the face to anyone who pays money to see it.