Based on the New York Times bestseller, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell revolves around Tucker, played by Matt Czuchry, and his two buddies, Drew, played by Jesse Bradford, and Dan, played by Geoff Stults. Drew has just gotten out of a rough relationship and harbors hostility for every woman he meets because his ex cheated on him, unfairly concluding that she must represent the entire female population. Dan, on the other hand, is only days away from marriage, so Tucker coaxes the two into traveling with him to a strip club for his bachelor party. After arriving, Dan learns that Tucker has alternate reasons for being there, which potentially jeopardizes Dan’s relationship with his soon to be wife.
Tucker Max is a guy most self respecting men love to hate. He treats women poorly and talks down to them, crudely pointing out every flaw he possibly can to make them feel insecure, objectifying them only as a means to get laid, and they still unrelentingly flock to him. He is the type of guy who spouts off lines like, “You may be able to vote and drive, but you will never be equal,” and then attempts to defend himself, twisting logic to make it sound like what he just said had no sexist implications. He has become a shining example of whom college aged men look up to, which is a sad statement on society if there ever was one. The fact that this putrid character is molded after an actual person and the events surrounding him are supposedly based on absolute truth is even more depressing.
Though Dan and Drew both grow as people, Tucker does not and unfortunately, he is the star of the movie. Tucker nearly ruins Dan’s relationship due to his own egotistical selfishness and shows no remorse. Does he learn a lesson? I suppose you could argue so, though crashing your friend’s wedding that you were no longer invited to and ranting a string of profanities in front of his family hardly qualifies as reaching a revelatory experience.
Much like the book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is unfocused, uneven and poorly written, but also like the book, there is something about it that keeps it moving along. You become curious as to what outlandish situations the guys will get themselves into next and tirelessly watch, fascinated by the absurd circumstances unfolding in front of you.
Nonetheless, what worked on the page does not necessarily hold up onscreen. The funniest lines in the film do not come from the book because many of the otherwise humorous stories get lost in translation. Each of the dozens of stories presented in the book usually built for pages leading up to one final paragraph or sentence, marking the comedic pay off of the chapter, which was easily accomplished due to its short story structure. The movie, however, follows a traditional narrative and instead comes off as one giant one-liner. There isn’t so much a set up and a pay off rather than a continuous string of zingers that, despite working within the context of the dialogue, feel too forced to be authentic.
While some jokes hit, many do not. Whether or not one will enjoy the movie depends largely on their affinity with the book because it unashamedly caters directly to that demographic, limiting its audience in the process. Had it not been for a thoroughly reprehensible protagonist, this minor entry into the world of cinema could have been a nice diversion from the typical mainstream Hollywood fare, but I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell fails on too many levels to reach even that status.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell receives 2.5/5