I checked out I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (IHTSBIH) (based off of the NY Times best selling book of the same title) at the LA Stop of Tucker Max’s movie tour. The premiere had an audience of around 800 people and the whole event ran extremely smoothly (from my perspective anyway).
Before getting to my review, a few disclaimers:
Disclaimer 1: I’ve followed Tucker Max before his book was published and am a fan of Tucker as a business man / entrepreneur and of his message that too many people miss in his stories of debauchery and drinking: do what makes you happy, don’t automatically buy into society’s standards of “success” as most people are miserable working their “prestigious” jobs.
Disclaimer 2: I’ve been following this movie closely for the past year by reading nearly every blog entry on the movie’s site. No matter your opinion of Tucker or the movie, if you have any interest in learning what the movie making process is like, I recommend the blog.
Disclaimer 3: Until just now, I never realized how hard it is to write a coherent movie review that doesn’t give away the whole movie. I hope I didn’t totally screw this up too bad.
Ok, with those out of the way, on to the movie:
In the movie, Tucker is a self centered, fun loving, guy who loves women and takes his two friends, Drew and Dan to a legendary strip club. It’s Dan’s bachelor party and Drew is bitter at all women because he recently walked in on his fiancé with a rapper (the two or three scenes that played on this were great). The trip gets a out of hand and Tucker has to win his friend back.
IHTSBIH is an engaging, above average comedy that had the misfortune of coming out too soon after The Hangover. Tucker has already written about this comparison, and while he’s right that The Hangover is wacky situational humor where IHTSBIH is character driven (I was really engaged by Drew’s relationship with the stripper), the movies still felt too similar to me. I remember laughing harder and more often during the Hangover, but then proceeding to rip The Hangover apart right after it ended due to all the absurd situations it had. With IHTSBIH, I laughed a lot, but not as frequently, and had two gut busting laughs: Drew’s diatribe about pancakewhiches, which I expect to become a YouTube classic, and Drew’s interaction with the stripper in the club. The “epic shit scene” was well done, but not my thing. The movie’s ending is strong as it doesn’t succumb to a standard “they lived happily ever after” and Tucker not actually changing his ways was a great character decision.
While I enjoyed the movie, I read too much of Tucker’s blog posts and had higher than usual expectations so I was not “wowed”. (I recognized this might happen in advance of the screening and tried to scale down my expectations, but I don’t think that fully worked.)
Regardless of my review, I still hope this movie does great at the box office. If that happens, it’ll be evidence that someone can be successful by Hollywood standards while not going through the standard Hollywood movie making system. (Tucker kept full creative control of his project, turned down studios buying his script and avoided paying $20 million for megastar actors due to his belief that the movie was so good it didn’t need “star power”.)
Overall: 3.5 / 5 Stars
If you’re looking for a comedy that you’ll enjoy, go see this movie. It’s entertaining and engaging but (unfortunately) not a must see comedy classic like Office Space or The Wedding Crashers. *
And one last disclaimer: If you’re going to see the movie, and haven’t read Tucker’s movie blog, hold off until you see the movie. Otherwise your expectations might climb too high.
*My personal test of a comedy classic: If I’m flipping channels and the movie in question comes on, and I’ve already seen this movie multiple times, will I stop what I’m doing and watch said movie until the end?