All of our favorite comedians phone it in for the paycheck once and a while. We can look the other way when Will Ferrell slums it up in loose, runny stool like Bewitched, so long as he's still writing and starring in great stuff like Talladega Nights. Sacha Baron Cohen made Borat: if he wants to pay for a new pool with a shitty cameo in Madagascar, who are we to judge?
But what happens when it's not a "phone it in" comedy? What if it's a labor of love? What if the comedian wrote, directed and starred in the thing? What if, essentially, it looked like everyone involved was trying to make a good movie, and it was stool anyway?
Well, then you get snarky no-talents like us picking apart your crappy movie in this article, apparently. Read on!
School for Scoundrels
THE PITCH: Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips,
the writer and director of Old School, reteam for this black
comedy! Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder gets lessons in self-confidence
from Bad Santa's Billy Bob Thornton... but they end up competing
for the same girl!
THE PAYOFF: Jon Heder and Billy Bob Thornton
aren't masters of improvisation. They need a fun, sharp script to play
off of, and they don't get it here. In one scene early in the film, for
instance, Heder's character gets ambushed by two thugs who threaten to
kill him. They then shoot at him while he tries to escape, and rob him
after he passes out from a panic attack. Scoundrels wants us
to take from this that Heder is a big pussy with no self-confidence-but
the scene's played so straight, who wouldn't be fucking terrified
in that situation? Welcome to every scene in this movie: mean-spirited,
played straight, and about as funny as a guy shooting at you.
PROBLEM: Scoundrels makes the mistake of thinking anybody
watches a comedy for its plot, spending one dull scene after another spelling
out who's doing what to who and why. When your comedy has talents like
Ben Stiller, David Cross and Sarah Silverman standing around explaining
characters' back stories like there's going to be a quiz when the movie's
over, you might be overthinking things.
Was anyone who liked Old School on the edge of their seats
over whether or not the stars would graduate? Scot "Shakespeare"
Armstrong and Todd "Bergman" Phillips seem to think we were.
Guys-comedies are retarded. When a character slips face-first
into a pile of cow shit, we don't need to know which cow it came from.
Nothing But Trouble
THE PITCH: Dan Aykroyd writes, directs AND
stars in a new comedy with John Candy and Chevy Chase! (This was back
when then name "Dan Ackroyd" still meant "the guy who wrote
Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers," not "that
really fat guy playing Britney Spears' dad in Crossroads.")
PAYOFF: Either Aykroyd has a different sense of humor from other
humans, or it's possible he just vastly miscalculated the hilarity that
would ensue by having grotesque, freakish psychotics attempt to viciously
murder people in a nightmarish premise involving transvestites, cannibals
with detachable penises for noses and Demi Moore attempting to act. John
Waters would have looked at this script and thought, "Wow, that's