17 December 2006 | jellyneckr
One of the best comedies of the year!
Artie Lange is an acquired taste. That is, if you know who he is. Not a marquee name, though definitely a recognizable face, Lange, like Adam Sandler, is the kind of comedian you either love or hate: loud, profane, and politically incorrect. Lange is basically John Belushi reincarnated (it helps that Lange looks enough like Belushi that he could play him in a bio pic). I've been a huge fan of Artie Lange's since the beginning of his career so the critique that follows should be considered pretty biased.
In BEER LEAGUE, Lange plays Artie (what a surprise), a 35-year-old alcohol-loving slacker/loser without a job who still lives with his mother (Laurie Metcalf). His life consists of little else besides attending bars, eating, and playing softball with his buddies. After getting in a fight with the championship team, it is decided by the local police that only one of the teams will be able to remain in the league at the end of the season. What follows is a series of scenes involving non-stop cursing, alcohol consumption, and some softball playing in between.
It goes without saying that BEER LEAGUE doesn't have the strongest plot in the world, which helps get as much nudity, crude jokes, and general tastelessness as one could want from the genre. A good 85% of the jokes succeed. However, there are times when the lack of story really does hurt the film. While never coming across as a one-joke, "Saturday Night Live" (or in Lange's case, "MAD TV") sketch kind of movie, Lange and co-writer/director Frank Sebastiano occasionally seem to find themselves in a trap as to what exactly to do with the picture to move it along plot wise. There's a sub-plot involving Artie's love-interest Linda (the very cute Cara Buono, giving the best performance of anyone in the cast) that gives the raunch-fest an unexpected heart, though despite their chemistry, her character and their relationship is never developed strongly enough for me to give it a higher rating. That said, the romance angle works a lot better here than it did in recent R-rated comedies like WEDDING CRASHERS and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, where it seemed to take the focus away from the main proceedings and in VIRGIN's case, felt extraordinarily fake. BEER LEAGUE is better than both the aforementioned comedies and certainly has more laughs than both combined, but if you aren't a fan of Lange, chances are you'll find yourself disagreeing. For the 18-29 male demographic BEER LEAGUE makes for a great guy flick. 7/10