Howard Stern Show regular Artie Lange summarizes Artie Lange's Beer League as "what would happen if the Bad New Bears grew up and became insane alcoholics and joined a softball league."
The movie, which opens today, follows the exploits of a ragtag team of players who are more interested in tapping kegs than fielding grounders. "I've played in a beer league for years," Lange says. "You always want to win a game, but beer helps you deal with life." Although the 38-year-old Lange has had recurring television roles on Mad TV and Norm, as well as bit parts in such well-received movies as Old School and Elf, he's best known as the substance-abusing, working-class sidekick on Stern's show. "Because of Howard, I'm able to really [promote] this film," says Lange. "We're a $3 million movie with a small distributor, but we have the awareness of a large studio film."
In Beer League, Lange plays Artie DeVanzo, an unemployed loser from New Jersey, who gathers a bunch of pals for an annual softball tournament against longtime rivals. "These are guys who take it a little too seriously," Lange says. "It's just a slice of life from Jersey." Karate Kid Ralph Macchio co-stars as one Lange's teammates, all of whom are way their athletic prime Lange's DeVanzo takes the field in corduroy pants. "I actually played with a guy like that," Lange laughs.
Since Beer League is being released mere weeks after the similarly named Beerfest, there may be some audience confusion. Lange shrugs it off. "It's a total coincidence," he says. "Bottom line is, they got more theaters. We're just trying to make our way along." Besides, Lange adds, his movie is more or less a small indie project about his own life. "We had very little money and very little time," he says. "We had to be insanely professional during filming, so the drinks went down pretty nicely on Saturday nights."
Fri., Sept. 15