Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Less Filling, Tastes Great: "Beer Muscles" (2004)

Writer/director/actor Griffin Marks delivers a rarity- a microbudget shot-on-video comedy that is actually pretty funny.

Bob (Bill Booker) is the bartender at Al's Bar (located in Al's basement). He is secretly in love with Al's daughter, Dorris (Carmen Jessee), and is trying to get his friend Trent's (Matt McGuire, who steals all of his scenes) job back as a busboy. But things are not all free flowing and merry in the town of Barleyville.

The evil M. Pino Grigio (director Marks) has invented a machine that will evaporate the town's supply of beer so his winery will succeed. He does just that, and Barleyville suffers. Al has died, and now the bar closes. Luckily, Bob has discovered a secreted case of Al's home brewed Al's Ale, and drinks them. Suddenly, he has super powers, and assumes the heroic name- Bob. Trent becomes his sidekick "Giant Balls," and the duo go on a hunt for truth, justice, and beer.

Sound stupid? It is, and it is funnier than any Eddie Murphy movie that has come out in the last eighteen months. While the term "shot-on-video" may have you running from your own home, Marks does an excellent job with the sound. I actually heard all of the dialogue! Something rare for a microbudget film, he also goes OUTSIDE. The location shooting is terrific.

The leads are really funny. Booker is no one's idea of a hero, but he is great as everyguy Bob. McGuire is a scream, with incredible comic timing and delivery. Marks gives himself a supporting role that reminded me of Seth Green, and also scores. Jessee is also sweet as Dorris, and her scenes with Bob are good. The supporting cast runs hot and cold, but the characters are hilarious: the town sheriff who can't find his gun, Grigio's put-upon sidekick Willie (Jesse Dunston), the guy who opens a strip club in his living room (Kirt's House of Ass), Bob's possibly gay dad, all are very funny.

I thought the finale was a little rushed and sloppier than the first two-thirds of the film, the editing was not as tight and some of the jokes fell flat. However, there was enough humor and beer drinking around to make this a fun time.

"Beer Muscles" provides plenty of moments, and opportune drinking games. It also gives microbudget film making a good name, and this comes from the reviewer who has sat through both "Ax 'Em" and "Asylum of Terror," and lived to write about them. Cheers to "Beer Muscles." (* * * *) out of five stars.