As an unabashed Howard Stern fan, I’ll readily admit that I’m anxious to see “Beer League”, the upcoming feature film co-written, co-produced and starring hilarious Stern sidekick Artie Lange.
The no-holds-barred, raunchy comedic stylings of Lange–who joined the show in 2001 and was also in movies including “Dirty Work” and the sketch show “Mad TV” prior–have been a perfect fit within the Stern fold, and a crucial element to its success, both on terrestrial and satellite radio.
As for “Beer League”, the film centers on Artie DeVanzo (Lange), an unemployed slacker–with an inexplicably gorgeous girlfriend–who is compelled to inspire the fellow brew-guzzling losers in his softball team to improve their game so they won’t get kicked out of the local league. In other words, imagine Porky’s crossed with Slap Shot crossed with Bad News Bears, and you just might be on to something.
While we’ve been treated to the quite amusing teaser trailer in the last few months, it was nice to see an actual online creative (thanks to Adverblog) that emphasizes the film’s R-rated content and plotline, while entertaining adults in the process.
Soap Creative, an Aussie interactive agency, stepped to the plate with an adults-only, online pinball advergame that can only be described as, ahem, engaging. In his blog, Soap’s strategy/technical chief Ashley Ringrose describes the beginnings of their unlikely partnership with “Beer League”. “The only requirement was that it contained the image or reference to ‘The Pitching Machine’, which is from a funny scene in the movie,” says Ringrose. “After throwing around initial ideas for a baseball type game, or a target shooting one, [creative director] Brad [Eldridge] threw in the idea of a pinball game.
Let’s just say the “Pitching Machine” in the film involves a gal’s lovely lower limbs. This bawdy scenario in turn provided the Soap stars with plenty of inspiration. Ringrose continues, “Usually I say as the [pinball games] are almost impossible to code properly in Flash, but the idea fitted so well. When Brad said to have the girls legs as the [machine’s] flippers, we knew that was it. We actually didn’t pitch any other ideas to the client. It was this or nothing.”
The client, who included studio Echo Bridge Entertainment, apparently loved it. But to play it safe, Ringrose states that Soap came up with backup plans if their brainstorm didn’t work. “We had a backup plan to just create a ‘tween version of a pinball game, meaning no code just everything would be animated and random to give the illusion of a real pinball. It was a cop out but our fail safe,” he states. “Luckily…we found a Flash Physics Engine which would help build a pinball game and from there it all went smoothly. The hardest part was finalizing the game play as pinballs are quite complex creatures and although they seem simple, they aren’t. You not only have to make it work, but make it fun.”
Fun abounds indeed. The all-or-nothing approach turned into a Flash 8 free-for-all for the pinball game, which launched just a couple of weeks ago and is actually best compatible with IE versus Firefox.
While media buys would seem the obvious marketing strategy, a small studio like Echo Bridge, as well as production partners Identity Films perhaps don’t have the marketing dollars of a Warner Brothers or Sony. But they and Soap have hit a home run with something small and viral such as this “Beer League” pinball game, which is a much more targeted offering to Lange’s audience.
It’s rude, crude, and definitely not safe for work. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t guilty-pleasure fun.
Batter up (if you’re 18+ that is) at: www.beerleaguethemovie.com/games