>> Tuesday, July 22, 2008
USA/C-82m./Dir: Patrick Kelly/Wr: Allan Weisbecker/Cast: Loretta Swit (B.D. Tucker), Rip Torn (Buzz Beckerman), Kenneth Mars (A.J. Norbecker), David Alan Grier (Elliott Morrison), William Russ (Merle Draggett), Saul Stein (Frankie Falcone)
During the years of “Tastes Great, Less Filling,” “This Bud’s For You,” and “You Can Call Me Ray…,” beer commercials provided fertile ground for satire. There probably could have been a first-rate comedy produced about Madison Avenue’s attempts to get Joe Sixpack to swill more suds. Unfortunately, Hollywood gave us Beer instead.
This watered-down brew stars Loretta Swit as B.D. Tucker, an “adman” desperate to come up with a great marketing campaign, when her biggest client, Norbecker Beer, threatens to take its business to another firm. After witnessing a failed bar hold-up, B.D. hires three average Joes (Grier, Russ, and Stein), who inadvertently apprehended the crook, to star in a series of commercials based on their sudden "hero" status. The spots are an overnight sensation, but in order to keep Norbecker Beer on top, B.D. has to produce increasingly offensive and sexist ads.
There’s nothing worse than dumb satire, and Beer is about as moronic as it gets. The writing never reaches the level of sub-par sitcoms; and while much of the material is outrageous, it is almost entirely unfunny. Somehow the producers were able to rope several first-rate character actors into appearing in the film, including Rip Torn, Kenneth Mars, David Allan Grier, and the late, great Dick Shawn; but despite their best efforts, they are largely unable to wring laughs from the anemic script. The commercial parodies garner a few mild chuckles--the advertising slogan “Whip Out Your Norbecker” being the most memorable joke. Otherwise, the film is about as flat as a day-old Blatz.
Drinks Consumed--Beer, whiskey, wine, and gin (martini)
Intoxicating Effects--Slurred speech, staggering, belching, brawling, destruction of property, soused sex, passing out, and bar tossed.
Potent Quotables--A.J. NORBECKER: The secret of a successful beer is advertising! You see, all beer is essentially the same. It is all fermented, piss-colored water.
Video Availability--The film was released on VHS by HBO Home Video, but the company has had the good taste not to release it on DVD. If you insist on watching Beer (and obviously, I'd advise against it), the entire film can be streamed on Fancast.
Similarly Sauced Cinema--If you're in the mood for a suds-soaked comedy, rent Strange Brew (1983) instead.