Scott Owen, David Swift
David Swift, Scott Owen
Beer brings joy. Through all the differences, hatred, racism, political turmoil and even religious conspiracies - we all have one thing in common. A springboard of commonality, that could launch a world peace movement unlike humanity has ever witnessed! It's the love of beer. That love of beer. It doesn't matter what part of the world you come from, there's a beer for you. As they say at the start of this film, a beer can finish off a hard day - and a beer can celebrate a great one.
I'm guessing you already think you know the basic plot here. It's a documentary. A documentary about beer. You don't need to be a master brewer to understand that. Right? What you probably don't know, is that there's a journey here as well. A few actually. We're introduced to various leading characters to go alongside the snippets of history, opinions, and general info on what is arguably the worlds most famous beverage. Here however, the history along with the average Joe inserts, are actually stored on the back burner of the movie - and brought forward to break things up throughout the flick. It's a smart way to produce a doc, because it keeps it's audience focused on the film even when a lesson is being taught. It's this personal aspect that helps keep the movies pacing tight. Well... tighter. Coming in at around two hours, "Beers Of Joy" is still a little long winded. But only a little.
I realize this is a documentary, but still don't want to give much away regarding the personal journeys of it's characters. As I wrote, these endeavors are what give this film it's edge. So much in the same way I don't give away movie spoilers, I won't reveal much about these characters, and keep things in an overview capacity.
On one hand we have quests to become a Master Cicerone. In case you're unfamiliar with the elite title, as I was, it's essentially the the same as a master chef. Only in this case, there are very... very few masters. I'm pretty sure the movie states there are under a dozen. There are four levels to attain before becoming a master - and man... it looks hard to achieve. We do get to see how this title works, and how to achieve it - as part of the plot I was writing about above - and part of the story I don't want to reveal.
In the other hand, we also have a journey across the globe in search of brewing history information, and speaking of "Master Chef" we also get a culinary story in the form of a big meal - and it's painstaking preparation. Including, of course, beer! Again, complete with historic snippets and musings. There really is a lot here, and the vast majority is easily interesting enough to keep you watching. Essentially? Come for the beer and stay for the story. That about wraps things up with the movie description. Moving on.
Technically, "Beers Of Joy" is a slick production. Written and directed by Scott Owen and David Swift, it becomes clear how seriously this film was taken... right from the opening scene. This isn't a cheap YouTube video pretending to be a Universal production. Not even a little. It's all put together nicely, written well, and second to none when writing about the production and post production. In a nutshell? "Beers Of Joy" looks and sounds great. Should, at some point, you come across this film on television or even, gasp, Netflix... the words indie won't even cross your mind. That indie look? Nowhere to be seen.
The stories of the four main characters are also pieced together quite well - and that in itself is perhaps the most pleasing thing about this film. It could have went either way, when considering the content. A journey is cliche. Cooking is cliche. A film on studying and taking a test is also... you guessed it. Cliche. Beer itself? C'mon now... the most cliche beverage in history. Yet here, in this film, you want to watch. You want to find out what will happen. You may even find yourself interested in more than just drinking your favorite brew. Imagine that!
I can't say this is a movie for everyone. But for those curious people who love watching documentaries, you really can't go wrong here. It's slick. It's polished - but more importantly, it's actually interesting and entertaining. What more does a film need to be a success? With that written, I have no problems putting out my personal rating of four stars. Time well spent? No question.