The boys of Broken Lizard have no shame. That’s what their fans like about them.
There’s something quant, cute and even endearing (stick with me here) about their more innocent jokes, the ones where the laughs aren’t cheap but are grounded in character and a genuine affinity for the good times. This latest film has definite moments of comedy that echo the sweeter moments in Super Troopers (Yes, there are a few!), and if you’ve ever found them charming, you won’t be disappointed. If, however, you have ever found them peurile, lazy, and repulsive, this will not be the film that will change your mind.
Lizard’s Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter play brothers of German decent who travel to Munich with the intent of spreading their father’s ashes, only to stumble upon a sort of “drinking Olympics” that Americans have been kept determinately excluded from. Inspired to defend their country’s dignity and fueled by a personal need to restore the family’s good name, the brothers return to the states with a plan to put together a drinking team and train, with copious drinking, for next year’s competition.
The jokes are obscene and lewd, and there are moments of on-screen chaos that suggest the troupe could use someone over their shoulder to reign in the more ludicrous scenes of pandemonium. But after all the pieces that didn’t quite make sense have fallen through the cracks of memory, audiences inclined toward this kind of humor may be left with a general impression of some very funny moments. If you’re not offended by the grandmother who is revealed to have been a prostitute (revealed, of course, in much more offensive terms) or the old school friend who currently is a prostitute (played by director Jay Chandrasekhar), what you find is some surprisingly winning characters.
The sweet scientist, nerdy and too mature for his emotionally and intellectually stunted friends, played in a lab coat and thick-framed glasses by Steve Lemme, seems to put up with the others out of an enchanting loyalty that is both admirable and against his better judgment. The unimposing yet larger-than-life Kevin Heffernan plays Landfill, a staple in the competitive eating circuit whose innocence and baby-faced enthusiasm is hard to dislike, even with the abundant profanity that pours out of his mouth as easily as the beer and hot dogs pour in. The two brothers are well-conceived, and the group of actors who play the German team breath a life and vitality into the roles that will make fans of the genre of slob/gross-out/they said WHAT? humor forgive them for what doesn’t work.
Parents should know that this film is for very immature mature audiences only. The dialogue consists of extremely strong, offensive, and vulgar language inappropriate for younger viewers, and there are scenes of nudity, including scenes of women with their shirts ripped off and male nudity from the back and side. Some audience members may be offended by the objectification of women, and also by the profuse stereotyping of individuals of different nationalities. There are repeated references to masturbation, oral sex, prostitution, and, of course, reckless drinking. Parents should be very cautious that this film not be a teenager’s first introduction to any of these themes and that anyone who sees the film understands the more serious consequences surrounding these themes before seeing them presented in a humorous light.
Families who see this movie should discuss the concept of family honor, and why it’s important to protect and look after family members. Families should also discuss patriotism and sportsmanship as it relates to international competitions, and how an individual being on another team or from another country does not necessarily make him or her an adversary. Parents should also encourage their families to think about the difference between loyalty to friends and peer pressure, and how to stay faithful to friends while maintaining good judgment.
Families who enjoyed this movie will enjoy the troupe’s 2001 feature Super Troopers, the Austin Powers trilogy, and Animal House, the college comedy that Broken Lizard, a comedy troup created by a group of college friends, has cited in the past as an inspiration. (All have mature material.)