The five guys who comprise Broken Lizard might not make the classiest comedies (Super Troopers, Club Dread), but they're smart enough to play to their beer-drinking demographic. In person they're affable and good for a joke or two over - you guessed it - a cold one. Which is what happened when BL members Erik Stolhanske and Steve Lemme came to Toronto recently to promote their Oktoberfest lampoon, Beerfest.
Did you guys grow up on Animal House films and Cheech and Chong movies?
Stolhanske: Oh yeah, over and over again. Lemme: My dad's from Argentina and I don't think he understood the rating system. He took me to see Animal House when I was four or five. I didn't get the "Eat me" joke until 15 years later.
Are you ready for the charge that you're glamourizing drunkenness?
Lemme: We just hope Mel Gibson keeps drinking. Any attention that can be deflected from us is great. But we're not promoting anything irresponsible like drinking and driving. Before one big drinking scene, notice that the characters put their car keys in a fishbowl and then drive around on a big five-person bicycle.
Do you know what audience you're targeting?
Stolhanske: I think it's pretty obvious. The geriatric set.
Lemme: And women over 35.
Speaking of women, how do you feel about the women who are gonna be dragged to see this?
Lemme: Amazingly, after the last test screening, our highest-rated demographic was women.
You have Oscar- and eight-time Emmy Award-winning Cloris Leachman playing a former prostitute turned cuddly grandmother. Was there anything she wouldn't do?
Stolhanske: She was great. She always went where the joke was. We had written in a physical sausage joke that she wouldn't do. She told us that she had grandchildren.
Were any frogs harmed in the making of the film?
Lemme: Nope. Does it look like they're having a bad time? Listen, if Robert De Niro were doing this film, he would masturbate the frogs for real. And I am no Robert De Niro.
No, you're not. Is it okay if you get bad reviews, as long as people go see the film?
Stolhanske: It hurts, it cuts really deep. Lemme: Obviously it's foolish to ever take on the critics, but I think some are jaded and compete with each other for the most clever way to pick apart a movie. Hey, we have feelings.
Why aren't the Canadians in the film better drinkers?
Stolhanske: It's kind of hard to make Canadians the villains. And South Park kind of did that before. Germans have always been a comedic enemy.
Speaking of the Germans, where did those accents come from?
Lemme: Each of the German guys represents a different German stereotype. One's the sadistic one, one's like an effeminate Schwarzenegger and the other is your Hogan's Heroes type. Stolhankse: What's strange is that we didn't like the accents of the real German actors, like Das Boot's Jürgen Prochnow. We had to teach them how to say certain words to sound more German.
BEERFEST (Jay Chandrasekhar) Rating: NN
Beerfest is a flat comedy about two American brothers who travel to Germany to spread their grandfather's ashes, only to discover a secret beer-drinking competition that makes Oktoberfest look like a lemonade stand. Of course, they've got to win, so they round up a group of former college buddies to train hard and bone up on their drinking games. Given the premise, it's about what you'd expect, with a silly plot and lots of gratuitous gross-out gags and homophobic/xenophobic jokes. Smart timing, though, to release it just in time for a new batch of impressionable frosh students to get drinking tips.