Given a choice between "seeing a bad comedy" and "being punched in the throat by Michael Chikliss" most people would probably choose the former. And given their natural fear of pain and their even more natural revulsion to Michael Chiklis, this may at first blush seem a wise coarse. But is it? (Hint: No.)
Say TV's Vic Mackey did smack you in the Adam's apple (and I wouldn't put it past him), what's the worst that could happen? That's right, he could crush your windpipe and you'd die. And wouldn't any right thinking person choose death over having to sit through some film in which, say, Adam Sandler plays a man who must infiltrate a crooked daycare center by masquerading as an overgrown toddler? Before you answer, please understand that there would be at minimum four scenes of grown ups trying to change Sandler's diaper who end up getting more than they bargained for! Adam Sandler, diapers, poop jokes Ã¢â‚¬" five minutes in you'd be forcing the brass knuckles onto Chiklis' meaty fist and begging for him to collapse your windpipe.
I guess what I'm saying is that bad comedies are worse than anything else ever in the whole of human history. And, hey, here are the five worst!
#5. Chairman of the Board
What happens when the stuffy, button down world of the corporate boardroom meets the nutty, high-energy mayhem of prop comedian Carrot Top? Well, I would tell you, but the results are so dark, so punishingly and relentlessly execrable that I fear it would break your mind. But here's a little glimpse:
A wealthy corporate type, played by Jack Warden, has car trouble and is rescued by an eccentric inventor named Edison, played with depth and intelligence by British actor Clive Owen (kidding -- it's Carrot, of course). Instead of doing the sensible thing, which is to scream and start swinging madly with a tire iron, Warden goes home and changes his will, leaving everything to Mr. C. Top. (I'm assuming the rest of his estate was divided evenly between Emo Phillips, Howie Mandell, and Gallagher.) Like most people who encounter Carrot Top for any length of time, Warden dies soon after, putting Carrot in charge.
It goes without saying that he runs afoul of all manner of authority figures, including Larry Miller and Raquel Welch, who is now comprised of 68 percent post consumer recycled parts. One of the things that is so frustrating about the film is that at no time does a character ask the question that is surely on everyone's mind: that is, "In the name of all that is good and holy, Carrot Top, what happened to your face? No offense, my friend, but are you a secret government experiment that went horribly wrong? Are you, sir, a freakish monster created by fusing together discarded clown parts? I know -- you fell out of a 750 foot-tall ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, only to be dragged up to the top and dropped several more times, right? Please tell me, I'll go mad unless I know! What are you?!"
#4. It's Pat: The Movie
The title tells you all you need to know: Yep, it's Pat all right. Pat, as it turns out, is neither funny, interesting nor in any way entertaining, nevertheless Pat exists.
Pat, as you'll recall, is the Saturday Night Live character of indeterminate sex. (No, you're thinking of David Spade. Pat is the one with dark curly hair.) In early '94, after the first "It's Pat" sketch went over fairly well, the producers took the concept, rolled it into a stiff baton and used it to endlessly and mercilessly beat the American public. We balled up on the floor and covered our heads, but brutal "It's Pat" sketches continued raining down. It must have been while we lay whimpering, hot tears stinging our eyes, that they gave the green light to the feature film.
As for the film, imagine a six-minute "It's Pat" sketch without one single laugh. Stretch it to 78 minutes and add the rock band Ween. It's It's Pat!
#3. The Master of Disguise
One day, a studio head shouted to his staff, "Give me a film that features Brent Spiner playing a character with irritable bowel syndrome. And build it around one of those lesser guys from Saturday Night Live Ã¢â‚¬" Patrick Weathers or Charles Rocket. No, make it Dana Carvey!"
"But, sir, that won't be funny in the least. In fact, audiences will sprint away from the very-"
"Damn it, man. Don't give me excuses. Give me a weak script and a flatulent Brent Spiner, now!"
For the full 80 minutes of The Master of Disguise, gags leap dutifully from the screen, clear about two inches and fall to their death on the theater floor below. Dana Carvey, playing Pistachio Disguisy — yes, Pistachio Disguisy. Again, he plays a man named Pistachio Disguisy — mugs, cavorts and tomfoolerizes like a madman, and the result is not unlike the worst night of karaoke you've ever seen. Only with no liquor.
If we were to assemble our nation's brightest minds, give them an unlimited budget and charge them with the task of producing the most disgusting comedy premise they could, what might they come up with? George Wendt as a flatulent nudist? The story of a foul-mouth thong tester played by Joan Rivers? A mixed-up farce in which Bill Murray must lick the temporary tattoos off of Walter Matthau's abdomen?
Oh, those are good suggestions all, but the there's no need to convene a panel because the job has already been done by Ivan Reitman and company way back in 1994. Their triumph? A film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger is impregnated by Danny DeVito. The film evokes not so much laughter as it does the desire to begin vomiting continually and not stopping until sometime during the next administration.
And just in case the characters accidentally caused some little spark of actual mirth, dour 60s songstress Judy Collins was on hand to smother it.
In short, ew.
#1. Little Nicky
History is divided into two epochs. The Time Before Little Nicky and The Time After Little Nicky. Before Little Nicky all was sunshine and light. Earth was paradise, the flowers were in bloom, children laughed more, the land flowed with milk and honey. After Little Nicky, all is darkness. The birds have stopped singing, the air is hot and foul, even Mary Lou Retton seems listless and sad.
Why? Why did it have to happen? I understand why Adam Sandler would feel it necessary to play the son of Satan, sent on a mission to Manhattan to retrieve his renegade brothers: because, after making Billy Madison, it became clear that Adam Sandler most probably is the son of Satan.
But why the screechy baby voice and the hideously deformed face? Why Harvey Kietel as Satan? Why sweet, talented Reese Witherspoon as Angel Holly? Why Kevin Nealon as Tit-Head? Do you hate humanity that much?
Please, make it The Time Before Little Nicky again. Please?
As Head Writer and star of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Michael J. Nelson was paid to talk to plastic puppets on a daily basis for 10 years. Find more of his movie-based comedy at RiffTrax, where you can download feature-length commentaries to play alongside a huge selection of rentable movies.