'The Hangover Part II' runs afoul of Utah's liquor laws
It wasn't patrons at Brewvies Cinema Pub in Salt Lake City that drew a $1,627 fine for "attire and conduct" violations.
It was the movie.
The offending film is "Hangover Part II," among the highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time.
On Thursday, Utah liquor-control commissioners approved the fine against Brewvies, which was $400 more than the penalty levied against a restaurant cited for serving alcohol to a minor.
"I'm struggling with the concept that an adult beverage may be served but an adult movie cannot be shown at the same time," said newly appointed commissioner Constance White.
Assistant Attorney General Sheila Page acknowledged that alcohol-free theaters also showed the film, which opened in Salt Lake County over the Memorial Day weekend. But those theaters do not fall under Utah's liquor statutes, which forbid bars and clubs from showing images of certain sex acts and full frontal nudity.
"Hangover Part II," about four men attending a wedding in Thailand, is rated R for strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images.
Scenes that ran afoul of Utah's liquor laws show full female, male and transvestite nudity. Other culpable scenes show the photo of a sex act in the movie's credits, and a monkey chewing on a plastic water bottle strategically placed beneath a monk's robes, state officials said.
Violations are deemed grave, carrying the harshest penalties that can be levied by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Repeat violators may be fined as much as $25,000, and their liquor permits suspended for up to 10 days.
Commissioner David Gladwell said he had concerns with the "grave" offense levied against Brewvies. He noted that Jam in the Marmalade restaurant was slapped with a lesser "serious" offense involving service to an underage drinker.
The Utah Highway Patrol's liquor enforcement team conducted the sting against Brewvies in June at the request of the liquor-control department, said UHP spokesman Dwayne Baird. The liquor department's request was based on a complaint by a strip club that it had been cited for sexually explicit violations while Brewvies was getting away with showing equally explicit films.
"We had no choice but to cite Brewvies because liquor is served there," said Baird. "We had to go with what the Utah statutes say."
Brewvies, located at 677 S. 200 West, admits patrons no younger than 21. Moviegoers must show identification at the door.
When the theater opened in February 1997, it served only 3.2 beer. Brewvies was licensed to serve beer, wine and spirits in September 2009. This is its first violation.
"We don't want to shake up anything," said Brewvies manager Andy Murphy. "We are happy and willing to comply with all of Utah's liquor laws. And that's all I have to say about this."
Movies now playing at Brewvies are "Cowboys & Aliens," and "Contagion," both rated PG-13, and "Our Idiot Brother," which is rated R.
Sean P. Means contributed to this story.
Brewvies Cinema Pub
Movies • PG-13 and R rated films; patrons must be age 21 and older
Menu • Pizza, sandwiches, salads, desserts and all types of alcohol
Address • 677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City
For show times, visit Brewvies.com
More fallout on liquor board's closed meeting
Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that a liquor-control meeting closed to the public earlier this month should have remained open.
Liquor-control commissioners closed a meeting Sept. 15 to discuss their relationship with the department's acting director, Francine Giani. Problem was, someone forget to turn off the intercom.
Both The Salt Lake Tribune and KTVX, Ch. 4, protested that discussions involving a department head do not fall under the state's Open and Public Meetings Act.
Giani also voiced concerns about the inappropriateness of excluding the public from the discussion. Commissioners closed the meeting on a unanimous vote, saying it involved a personnel matter.
On Thursday, Herbert said during his monthly KUED news conference that he agrees with Giani's position. "If there are questions, they should err on the side of openness," he said.
Herbert said he has met with board chairman Richard Sperry to address concerns that Giani had not been providing commissioners with enough information.
Giani said she has provided weekly reports to the board, rather than the traditional monthly updates.
The governor said he believes Sperry and Giani have since resolved their issues.