Tucker Max is God’s gift to women.
Well, he thinks so at least. Actually, if this law student were any kind of gift at all, it’s safe to say he’d be the white elephant kind.
Why? Because Tucker is a self-proclaimed ________. I can’t fill in that blank in this review, no matter how many times the movie I’m reviewing does so. It’s just too foul to print. Let’s just say instead that he routinely admits that he’s a big, heartless, narcissistic, id-driven jerk. And I’ll add misogynistic for good measure.
His friends Drew and Dan agree. Wholeheartedly. But for some completely inexplicable reason they still hang out with this overgrown toddler and do his bidding—even when he gets Dan to lie to his fiancée, Kristy, about going to a strip club for Dan’s bachelor party. Dan hates to lie to her, but even she realizes she’s not his top priority. Ultimately, Tucker is.
So to celebrate Dan’s dwindling days of singleness the three men—I’ll call them that even though they’re not really worthy of the label—drive to what Tucker calls the “Super Bowl of carnal pleasures.” Once there, he’s intent on continuing his quest to have sex with women who suffer various kinds of physical disabilities.
Eventually, Kristy finds out about the strip club. Of course. She forgives Dan. But she bans Tucker from the wedding ceremony. True to his self-obsessed form, Tucker crashes the party anyway, “apologizing” during the reception for his many, many, many, many, many, many sins.
All of this is based on a supposedly true, best-selling (!) story by real-life law student, man-boy and blogger Tucker Max.
A stripper Drew falls for (Lara), challenges him to grow up and out of his bitterness and hang-ups toward women. Somehow she sees beyond his anger and into his gentler heart. Kristy calls Dan on the carpet for his lies and confronts Tucker with his unbelievable behavior, challenging him to act like a true friend. Drew acts gently toward Lara’s young son, playing with his toy soldiers and LEGOs.
Tucker eventually realizes he’s been a rotten buddy and tries to make amends. (I’m only giving partial credit for this one, though, since he’s still being selfish while sort of trying not to be selfish.)
Kristy’s mother, Mrs. Jorgens, is a stereotypically pious, judgmental Christian. Dan jokes about how another dinosaur fossil might have shaken her faith—and how she wouldn’t know a good time if it jumped out of the Bible and landed on the lawn of her megachurch.
Though most (if not all) of that is played for meanspirited laughs, Kristy does challenge her pharisaical mother to start being more loving. But she also says “in Jesus’ name” that her mother’s religious beliefs are “baloney.”
Several people casually thank God for trivial things, and “the one true God” is said to make excellent pancakes. Tucker says someone has a personality like “the worst parts of the Bible,” implying that they’re boring and ignorant. Genesis is referred to as the G in Bingo. Drew tells Tucker, “God protects children and fools because you are both.”
The bulk of the movie takes place in a strip club.
Topless women do erotically explicit pole and lap dances in barely there g-strings or bikini bottoms. And the camera repeatedly zooms in for salacious eyefuls.
When the setting isn’t sleazy, it’s sleazier. Several scenes show couples having sex in silhouette. In others, we see Tucker’s bare backside and torso as he has sex with different women. Drew and Lara land in bed together, kissing and undressing, and it’s implied that they have sex. In a flashback, Drew’s fiancée cheats on him with a rapper, giving the mostly clothed man oral sex. Tucker hits on a married woman in a bathroom and they make out ravenously, intending to have sex.
There’s a cacophony of crass references to anal, oral and group sex, erectile dysfunction, manual stimulation and homosexuality. Bestiality gets a “nod.” Rape is joked about.
Neighbors call police to a house where Tucker is having violent and loud sex with a woman. Dan accidentally hits a stripper, bloodying her nose. He then falls off a stage, crashing into a bottle that badly cuts his face. Drew “humorously” says he’d like to throw most children into a wood chipper. And that he’ll carve a hole into someone’s body if that someone doesn’t leave him alone. He says he hopes Tucker dies in a fire, and that he will “gut and grind” a woman into pig slop if she touches him again. Dan attacks Tucker, lunging across a table to hit him. Tucker says he should kill the fat girl at a bar.
About 30 s-words and at least 125 f-words. God’s name is abused. (It’s coupled with “d‑‑‑” a few times.) Christ’s name is misused four or five times. Other mangled uses of the English language include “d‑‑k,” “b‑‑ch,” “tw-t,” “p‑‑‑y,” “h‑‑‑,” “p‑‑‑” and “a‑‑.” Obscene gestures are made.
This movie—and Tucker Max’s renowned tales of sexual wrongdoing—would not exist without alcohol. A steady stream flows from beginning to end. In one scene doing shots becomes a contest between male and female teams. Tucker says alcohol is highly underrated, and that he’s way past the beginning stages of alcoholism because he’s already hiding liquor around his house and drinking alone in the dark.
Yes, booze is said to make ugly people pretty, boring people interesting and hot girls like you. But what it really does is make the characters in this movie intolerable and stupid.
A woman puts eyedrops in Tucker’s beer, causing him severe intestinal discomfort and, um, discharge. Of course, such a prank could kill a person in real life, but in this case it just makes him really, really sick.
People smoke in clubs or bars. Marijuana is referenced.
If I explained every single negative element, this review would become a novella. So I’ll cover just the most offensive:
Tucker mocks a hearing-impaired woman’s speech after having sex with her. He doesn’t stop there, scorning women with any kind of disability, be it “homeliness” or a medical condition. To him, women are conquests, and having sex with them makes him a hero. He claims that overweight women aren’t real people. He is racist, prejudiced, dirty-minded and completely self-absorbed, and to him, anyone who disagrees with his sexual advances, lewd humor or general way of thinking is an “a‑‑hole.” It’s as Marc Savlov said in his review for The Austin Chronicle, “This particular antihero is all anti- and zero hero.”
Drew tells a girl that Tucker has lots of kids, but they were all aborted and are now in a compost heap. African-Americans and other races are denigrated. Little people are slammed.
Dan urinates in an alley and is disrespectful to the policemen who tell him it’s an offense. And the movie serves up what the real Tucker Max calls “one of the most epic poop scenes in history.” In it, feces are very graphically strewn around a bathroom or two and a hotel lobby. We’re forced to watch as Tucker uses his already soiled clothing as toilet paper, then walks around half-naked.
Whenever I hear flight attendants tell airplane passengers how to use the seatbelts, I always think that if people need help fastening theirs, they probably shouldn’t be flying alone. Likewise, if moviegoers need help understanding why a movie titled I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is out of bounds, they shouldn’t leave their homes unsupervised.
Indeed, this is one of the most reprehensible films I’ve ever seen. As an equal opportunity offender, it’s sexually, spiritually, morally, racially and verbally disgusting. Its “men” objectify women, worship immature behavior and seem to think life has no meaning without alcohol and strippers.
But here’s the truly scary thing: People sitting around me laughed at the antics they were watching. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is getting well-deserved critical drubbings, but it seems there will always be a sizeable audience for “fratire” like this. After all, Max’s book was on The New York Time’s best-seller list for years.
“We are half-hearted creatures,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Not to wax too philosophical—something this movie never does—but I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is slum mud, folks. And if we’re pleased by it, it’s because we don’t know what true humor and filmmaking are.