I’m not well known for decorum. One glance at the titles of the majority of the Talkingship shows and you’ll realize that my sense of humor stalled somewhere between 13 and my first beer (I have no idea when that was, but for the purpose of this joke we’ll say it was at 13 and a day.) This no doubt plays a part in my appreciation of Tucker Max’s book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. The question is, does the same hold true for the movie version of his raunchy book?
The simple answer is: No.
I loved the book. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. His exploits were beyond reproach and bordered on the wrong side of legality more often then not. His writing is entertaining, his adventures are damn near unbelievable, and his misogyny is somehow … well, charming. When reading the book you will quickly realize that Tucker Max is a deplorable piece of shit, but you just can’t stop laughing. However, as soon as I heard this was going to be a movie, I knew it was doomed. There’s no way you can bring a character like Tucker Max to life on screen without being forced to really face the gross nature of what this man represents. He is the worst of what males have to offer.
Throughout the movie I was confronted with scenes that were familiar from my reading, but warped into visualizations that I neither needed nor wanted. The actors are all well cast, especially Matt Czuchry who plays Tucker and does a pretty good job of portraying a worthless, womanizing piece of shit. Bravo. The one actor that was never able to capture the character he was playing is easily Jesse Bradford, who is normally a decent actor, as the off beat woman-hating, recently-dumped Drew. Every line he delivers comes out feeling contrived rather then witty like it does in the book. This reveals the true fault in this film: it treats the source material far too preciously.
One of the best parts of the book is when Drew extolls the virtues of McDonald’s McGriddle sandwich. His description of the flavor crystals bursting in your mouth is brilliant, hilarious, and should be required reading for everyone under 40. They included this in the movie, and it falls flatter then the pancake buns that inspired it. It is clear that Tucker Max was looming over the filming of this project, insisting that his book was genius enough to warrant a straight transfer to celluloid, and he was wrong. Much like Kevin Smith attempts to force feed unnatural dialogue into his films, Tucker does the same. When a person is sitting at their computer, tapping away witty lines, then rewriting them, then finalizing them, they stop sounding like human conversations and become witticisms that only work when read. The second these words slip from someone’s lips on screen, the audience loses faith in the screenplay. While watching this movie you should expect to have that experience within the first few minutes, and it won’t get better for the rest of the 100 or so minutes remaining.
Everything builds up to a weakly conceived and executed redemption that was created for the film, I guess because the producers realized it might be a mistake to have the main character of their movie be a 100% complete and utter douche-bag. The moment, involving an apologetic wedding speech, isn’t funny, interesting, or even remotely believable. He literally tries to convince everyone he has changed his ways because of a bowel explosion.
As the literary world tries to prepare themselves for the September, 2010, release of Tucker’s new book, Assholes Finish First, we are all left to ponder our enjoyment of his first work. Yes, it’s funny – very funny – and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t planning on reading it again at some point. But after forcing myself to watch a visual representation of Tucker’s life, I have to ask myself if contributing to his behavior by supporting his books is a bad thing for our society in general.
Aw fuck it. I’ll buy his next book. But I can’t recommend his movie. It’s sloppier then the shit he left in the hotel lobby for the maids to clean up.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell gets 2 ships out of 5.