On Tuesday I watched Beer League starring Artie Lange who is currently making the Howard Stern show on Sirius must listen radio, and almost, by itself justifies the purchase of Sirius. I didn’t have very high hopes for Beer League as most of Stern’s fans pretty much took a shit on it, but they can be ball breakers of epic proportions and I like Artie, so it was worth the Netflix shot.
The Stern fans are mostly right. It’s not great. It has some funny moments, but on the whole doesn’t get it done. Though I gotta say, the fact that at the end of the movie, the entirely negate the premise of the movie is pretty great.
It’s the story of a fat, drunk Italian from Jersey who is in a slow pitch softball league, against the Italian version of Billy Zabka. Because these two guys, and their teams hate each other and get into a brawl during the first game of the season, the town sheriff basically says, that’s enough you guys fight too much. Only one of you can play in this league next year. So, whoever wins the league stays, the other is banned. The low stakes are appropriate as it’s about all these guys could get themselves up to care about. It’s also funny that an entire movie is built around the idea that it’s worth telling a story where so little is on the line. After all, how hard would it be to play in a different league?
Artie (and here I’m speaking of the character. I gotta respect anyone who pulls the Tony Danza card and plays a character with the same first name, just to make things easier all around) is a big fat slob. He’s a recovering coke addict, who eats too much, drinks too much, and basically has no direction in life. I see no parallels here to the life of Artie Lange, except all of them.
Here’s where it’s hard to watch this movie. Here’s a picture of Artie when he made this movie. He’s not exactly Michael Phelps, but still. Here’s a picture of Artie now. He’s pushing 300 pounds now, and as I watched him run the bases the only thing I could think was, "There’s no way he could even run to first now, much all the way around." It sucks a little bit of the funny out of a movie, when you’re fairly certain the baby gorilla in the starring role is now 100 pounds heavier, and is, in real life, what happens to people who live the way his character in the movie lives. God, it’s sad.