Beer (1985) An attempted satire of the alcohol advertising industry.

beer_usposter01Theme Song:
“Tons of Beer” by The B. Willie Smith Band:


This is a rollicking rock-ish song complete with mandatory 80s sax solo.

The B. Willie Smith Band is still together and recently wrote a little something about the recording of this song on their Facebook page.

Interesting Dated References: A woman very obviously not wearing a bra in a corporate workplace (see photo below). Look, I know this is a movie and it’s Loretta Swit and it was the 80s, but did this used to actually fly in the boardroom? She clearly is braless and has her nipples showing through her silken blouse as she lectures a room full of men. No wonder nobody ever got anything done back then. Thank goodness the modern, homogenous corporate environment has turned everyone into productive, sexless automatons. It is impossible to be sexually aroused in the modern workplace, unless you are aroused by thick, drab fabrics covering the genitals of your prospective love interest.

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Best Line: Said by ad executive — “You are going to be a role model for our target audience: Lower-class, economically-unsuccessful men. Men who reached out for the American dream and came up with a beer in one hand and their dicks in the other.” Said later by the same ad executive — “Alcoholism, divorce, violence in the streets, we’re doing great.”.

Social Context: In the late 70s to early 80s, advertisements for beer began to take on the extremely competitive, over-the-top form we’re all overly familiar with today. Beer, although slightly bloated in its midsection and full of cloudy editing choices, attempts a biting satire of the advertising hysteria of the era.

Summary: A.J. Norbecker, head of Norbecker Beer, is tired of his sagging sales. After watching other commercials for Michelob and Budweiser (which, as an added bonus, are shown in the movie), he decides to kick his advertising firm in the ass to come up with something exciting.

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Ad exec B.D. Tucker (Loretta Swit) and her director friend, Buzz Beckerman (Rip Torn from Robocop 3), go to a bar to brainstorm. This is intercut with footage of three separate losers, Frankie, Merle, and Elliott failing at life and ending up at the same bar.

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The trio thwarts a would-be robbery and Swit sees her storyline for the new advertising campaign: Down-on-their-luck blue collar heroes save the day with the aid of Norbecker beer. The commercials are massively popular and Norbecker sales go through the roof.

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Eventually though, everyone’s lives fall apart. Frankie can no longer get erections, Elliott (David Alan Grier) can’t get any respect at home, and Merle seems to be chronically unable to get his car out of impound. Swit gets overly greedy with exploiting their images and the trio suffers a desert plane crash. Around this point the movie loses momentum, as well. Jokes fall flat, post-plane crash desert wandering goes on forever, and an unnecessary amount of time is spent watching A.J. Norbecker and the ad execs discuss ways to get publicity by staging an ethical battle of the sexes.

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Then the trio is busted getting into a fight at a gay bar, which is the plot device that ends the movie. A.J. Norbecker decides to do a gay-friendly commercial for their new light beer, and the three blue collar heroes go back to their normal lives.

Worth Mentioning:
– David Alan Grier does a very good job with his character, Elliott, and has a couple of good scenes. At one point Swit tells him he’s “not black enough,” so he goes home to work on being “blacker.” Although offensive by today’s standards, Grier does a great job with the material.
– When trying to be “blacker,” Grier watches a Charlie Barnett stand-up tape.
– There are a lot of politically incorrect topics in this movie: Italian stereotypes, southern stereotypes, black stereotypes, sexism, and let’s not overlook that getting caught in a gay bar ends the careers of our blue collar heroes. That was the humor at the time, though, and all it really reveals is that we’re super boring and stuck-up as a society now.
– This will be my last Betamax review and I hereby declare this site finished.

Poster and Box Art: Hey, do you want to talk about airbrushing? I know, you don’t care about things that require actual artistic talent because you have an app on your phone that can do something similar and blah, blah, blah. Well, guess what? Your app is a fucking piece of garbage and you should get your ass in the garage with an air compressor and learn a true craft.

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The airbrushed logo for Beer is awesome. Do you know how much time and effort went into creating it? If half of these people running around telling everyone they’re professional letterers and sign painters would cut the bullshit and pick up an airbrush this world would be a better place. Then we could all stop acting like writing “Find Your Bliss” or “Always Wander” with a bunch of curly ascenders/descenders takes any talent at all.

Availability: Available to stream for free if you have Amazon Prime.

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