The Good

A surprisingly funny and delightful film.

The Bad

They didn't utilize Ralph Macchio enough.

Artie Lange's Beer League is a funny if not entirely original tale about Artie DeVanzo (Artie Lange) and a team of softball losers who, when it looks like they are going to be pushed out of their own league, decide to start practicing to save the one thing they care about. At the same time DeVanzo meets Linda Salvo (Cara Buono) and we come to realize that this jerk of a man, really has a certain charm and grace about him. Suddenly, his team starts winning and it looks like they are going to actually best Dennis Mangenelli's (Anthony De Sando) team that has it all. In the end, nothing works out in the storybook way, but with Artie Lange not being a storybook kind of guy, everything works out as it should.

I would highly recommend Artie Lange's Beer League to anyone who wants a good laugh, or enjoys ensemble, unpolitically correct comedies.

Features

Disc One

Commentary Track

Artie Lange and director Frank Sebastiano do the job here and as expected they are having a lot of laughs. They joke that this movie is a play on William Shakespeare's "Ale League," then they talk about the blocking of certain scenes, how Cara Buono is too hot to be with Artie Lange, and how overall the critics were too uptight to enjoy this movie. I had a lot of fun going through this simply because by the end of Artie Lange's Beer League, I found his offhand charm and humor to be almost admirable.

Disc Two

Beer Goggles Short

This isn't a short so much as it's a commercial. The premise is actually pretty funny. These goggles are the things for both men and women to wear. Basically, if you end up meeting someone who is below your standards in terms of how they look, these goggles will make them seem more appealing. While I know that that is wrong on many levels, I would be lying if I said this short didn't make me laugh a bit.

Unrated Trailer

Beer League Behind the Scenes

Essentially this is a pretty run of the mill "making of" piece, however what saves it is that everyone (save for Ralph Macchio) doesn't seem to be taking it too seriously. We get to see the on set goings on during the production, Artie Lange's stunt double, and we also get to hear from actors like Seymour Cassel and Anthony DeSando as they talk about their roles. Apparently, people in real softball leagues are pretty serious about it so I guess Artie Lange's Beer League is making more of a social commentary than even they realize.

Live from CineVegas!

Artie Behind the Scenes of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Best Damn Sports Show

I guess if I was a huge fan of Artie Lange, or I felt that he warranted this kind of behind the scenes treatment, I probably would have liked this more. Once again, we see him making jokes, telling stories, and genuinely seeming to enjoy the life he has fashioned for himself. In fact, the wait to go on the shows only seems like a formality between Lange getting on the air and how much he can stave off getting drunk in the meantime.

In the Studio With Artie, Raw Interviews and Beer League Photo Gallery

Video

Widescreen version presented in a "matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. This film actually looked really solid for a low budget indy. It didn't suffer from under or overexposure and in many ways it looked like a studio film. In fact, it usually seems like one can look at a movie like this and tell right away that it's low budget, but I didn't get that impression here at all. While I doubt the budget was under $1 million it certainly couldn't be over $5 million.

Audio

English: Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio on this movie was also really solid. I didn't hear anything that grabbed my attention in a negative way, and best of all this movie was filled with the kind of humor that makes it imminently rewatchable. Also, the fact that the acting was above par also helped this movie come across in a much stronger way. All in all, when I see a film as solid as Artie Lange's Beer League come out with very little fanfare on DVD, I can't help but think the market might be too crowded.

Package

Lange stands front and center, hands in pockets, with his team fighting behind him. Across his chest is the title of the movie with the tagline "No Gut, No Glory." The back portion of the cover gives us a description of what this film is about, a Bonus Features listing, some pictures from the film, a cast list and system specs. Both discs are neatly stored in two trays inside one normal amaray case. All in all, I am surprised that a movie that barely got released is getting such a nice treatment on DVD, however, I think this distributor knows that fans of Lange will find the movie and be happy it has so many bells and whistles.

Final Word

My only problem with Artie Lange's Beer League is the fact that I wish Ralph Macchio would have been better used. He is a really good actor but I think he might suffer because he had so much success so early. While I have never heard anything other than glowing reports about him, I think people might still see him as a "child actor." Even I, a huge fan, was a bit taken aback to see him carousing around with strippers in this movie. Don't get me wrong, I understand that people grow up, but this was a little much for me too take. I mean, this is Johnny Cade we're talking about! This is Daniel LaRusso! You see... even now I have a hard time separating the person from the roles he made famous.

As I stated above, if you want a good laugh, invite some friends over, break out the brew and chips and get ready to enjoy Artie Lange's Beer League.

Artie Lange's Beer League was released September 15, 2006.