Straight-to-Video Comedies That Took Us Straight-to-Hell

The funniest movies for all the wrong reasons
Straight-to-Video Comedies That Took Us Straight-to-Hell

The long slow death of Blockbuster (still one left, folks!) and your local video store means we’re also waving so long to another beloved American institution: the straight-to-video comedy. That means no more late-night finds like C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. and The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It. The best of these not-good-enough-for-theaters beauties provided cheap laughs while the worst were even funnier — for all the wrong reasons. 

Here are some straight-to-video atrocities that put us on a highway to comedy hell…

All the American Pies

The screenplay for the original American Pie was jokingly called Untitled Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made for Under $10 Million That Most Readers Will Probably Hate But I Think You Will Love, a screenwriter’s plea for attention but also a savvy understanding of the concept’s appeal. Cast a bunch of cheap unknowns, invent funny-ish sex scenes involving pastry, then count the cash. That’s just what the original series did, with four movies that took in nearly a billion at the box office.

But why stop there? Long after Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan found better things to do, producers slapped American Pie Presents on the covers of countless video boxes, including Band Camp (2005), The Naked Mile (2006), Beta House (2007), The Book of Love (2009) and Girls' Rules (2020). Generations of Stiflers teamed up with Eugene Levy, who somehow found the time to show up in nearly all of them. Did someone have pictures of Levy and an eclair?

All the National Lampoons

Long after the magazine died, hucksters bought the National Lampoon name and placed it on comedies that had nothing to do with the legendary brand. There are no Animal House or Vacation laughs to be found in more than 30 (!) titles like National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze, National Lampoon's Barely Legal, National Lampoon Presents: Cattle Call, National Lampoon Presents Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo, National Lampoon's The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell and National Lampoon’s Last Resort — but you will find the occasional Corey Haim or Feldman. 

All the Bring It Ons

The original Bring It On was a modest comedy success, but not the kind of mega-hit that you’d think could spawn five direct-to-video sequels and a Halloween-themed TV movie. But here we are in a world where you can watch Bring It On Again, Bring It On: All or Nothing, Bring It On: In It to Win It, Bring It On: Fight to the Finish, Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack and Bring It On: Cheer or Die. None of these laugh riots contains a single actor or character from the original, but who cares because human pyramids!

All the Schwarzenegger Sequels Without Schwarzenegger

Wasn’t Ah-nuld kind of the selling point of Jingle All the Way and Kindergarten Cop? If you were hungry for more of the Governator, imagine renting Jingle All the Way 2 and finding him replaced with Larry the Cable Guy. Heck, we would have taken Sinbad.

Kindergarten Cop 2 did us the courtesy of hiring a strong man with an indecipherable accent for the lead role, although there’s a reason why “Dolph Lundgren” and “comedy” are two terms rarely used in the same sentence. 

All the Eddie Murphy Sequels Without Eddie Murphy

The Schwarzenegger rip-offs are positively star-studded compared to the sequels to secondary Murphy hits. Producers couldn’t even get Steve Zahn back for Grand-Daddy Day Care, the second follow-up to Murphy’s kiddie comedy 16 years after the original played in the backs of minivans. Reno Wilson takes the lead in this decrepit affair about seniors getting stoned on gummies, with laughs generated by Danny Trejo’s early onset dementia. Hilarious.

Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts is the fifth movie in Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle series, three of which saw Murphy hiding as far away from the production as possible. Why might you want to hunt this one down on eBay? That’s Norm Macdonald, back once again as the voice of Lucky the dog! Is that barking or the sound of a check being cashed?


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