I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
As previously described, I went into this thingi in the hope that it will be really very bad.
Well.. it's not.
It's not good, either. In fact, it's hardly a film at all, exactly in the sense that training flights are not liner flights. It could be a decent graduating project, for instance, or an above-average home video. In either case it really doesn't qualify for professional distribution.
For one thing, the cinematography screams amateur at the top of its lungs. The set is what you'd expect in your average middle class wedding footage, with the props provided by the catering service.
For the other thing, the screenplay is a huge steaming pile of hacky. It's not a matter that it breaks some convention or other of this craft. It's just that it unabashedly displays a strict unawareness of any of the actual, objective constraints involved. As an example, you know how in (badly done) cartoons and re-dubbings of the Hitler's Rant youtube clip there's occasionally a lengthy bubble intended to "go into" a short interval ? Like say Bruno Ganz grunts and the caption goes "blabla-bla bla bla bla bla, blablabla bla bla blablabla yadda yakkity yak", sixty-eight syllables ? Well... this may work (sort-of, not really) in cartoons and in fanon, but it does not work for a script. If you don't know it doesn't work, because you don't have the experience with the craft, because you didn't go to school nor bothered studying it, then you do hacky things like having the characters talk into the air for long intervals throughout the "movie". Which breaks it.
That's not the only example available either, it helps to have a plot, and a premise, and some ideas, and you know, other stuff like that. All I'm saying is that if some guy's "car" is missing three wheels (one's replaced with a painted cardboard box tho!) you're probably not going to expect a working stereo or blinkers. Nor should you. In any case, whatever you may expect : Tucker Max's screenplay is an old clunker with a single, painted cardboard wheel.
For the third thing, Jesse Bradford is just a humongous ham (and this film appropriately ended his "career", such as that was). Don't get me wrong, hamming it up is a perfectly legitimate strategy, especially in situations where a weak director, incredibly bad screenplay or serious problems on the set render any hope at a legitimate result unsubstantial. And hamming it up does occasionally create a jewel out of dung and straw. But for this thing to work, a substantial majority of the cast must be in on it, and work well together. These kids don't work well together in any case, and Bradford hams it up on the solo. It comes out miserably. Yes, I am aware that Internet "irony" and "sarcasm" are these particular things, sure, sure. You'll have to be aware that while the Internet may well consider itself the United States of media, that approach didn't work for the original United States, either. It doesn't work here, film doesn't care what works online, it never heard of online, it's a different jurisdiction. Play by the book or go to jail, geddit ?
The better parts are the women. Pratt's character is supposedly the prissy blonde girl, but she's admirably balanced : on one hand she lets her mom have some space, on the other hand she hushes her out when hushing her out's called for. Dominczyk's character is a "whore" (stripper, really) that manages to deliver the sane part of feminism convincingly, and to everyone's benefit. They're both pretty, they both play acceptably given their age and the environment, it's unfortunate they ended up here but they're still young enough to recover.
Matt Czuchry is okay, but he's more of a doggy follower than the alpha velociraptor the screenplay seems to imply. This contrast between the actor's style and projection and the screenplay's apparent expectation could have worked to great humorous effects, if the narcisiac pushing the entire project had been ejected and kept off the set. Unfortunately as-is it only works to dizzy and distract, and in the end misses out on any possible chance to have signified something.ii
There's the occasional chuckle-inducing retort. I don't remember any of them, but as a general rule of thumb, you got about even odds every time a character says something that's shorter than six words. Which, all told, comes to about a dozen opportunities in an hour and three quarters.
I've never seen a cinematic project so badly hurt by its own writing since the days I was fucking Romania's starlets, roughly a decade ago.———
- I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, 2009, by Bob Gosse with Keri Lynn Pratt, Marika Dominczyk. [↩]
- Incidentally, I imagine Tucker Max was heavily involved in the selection of his "face" in the film, something that's universally a bad idea but particularly so here. He ended up with a kid that superficially looks like him on a physical level while also being someone he could get along with, which means, exactly wrong for the role.
More generally, this earthen, pedestrian, methodical but uncomprehending "I'm a peasant and I work the soil" approach to life and everything displayed in this corner is in fact very descriptive of Tucker Max as a whole. His idea of a premise for a funny story is, "guy meets girl". But that's kinda banal, so he figures it should suffer an alteration, "to make it even funnier". What could be changed ? Not the guy, as the guy is "him", so that leaves the girl. Ok, suppose the girl was a midget. Then the banal storyline ("And I gave her my best 'I want to fuck you right now' face and she gave me the cutest 'Oh baby you make me all wet inside' face") can be sed -i 's/''d into "And I gave her my best 'I want to fuck you right now' face and she gave me the cutest 'Oh my spine hurts so bad' face". Because she's a midget, you see ? It's funny, I tell you. Laugh, damn you!
It's not as much that he has no talent for writing, it's more that a) I could write a script that could outwrite him and it'd take me less time than it'd take him to get drunk and b) he wouldn't know talent if it fell on his head.
I have no doubt that some horses make fine Senators, as the esteemed Senate proves to us on a daily basis. This nevertheless does not mean that some other horses don't belong working the fields. They do. This is one such horse. [↩]