The Love Guru, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Big Stan – movie reviews.
You wouldn’t necessarily think it, but these three films have an awful lot in common. So much so, I could pretty much write the same review for each of them, pausing only to change the odd name.
I did actually toy with the header for this article as “Unfunny Comedy Roundup” but of course comedy is ostensibly the most subjective genre of entertainment – one person could be in tears at the hilarity of a gag whilst another fails to raise more than an embarrassed smile. To that end, I felt I couldn’t rightly tell you that these movies are Definitively Unfunny, but they certainly left me largely unamused.
Anyway, getting back to the similarities, rather than my traditional verbose ramblings, I’ve elected to make a handy cut-out-and-keep Top Trumps-style checklist for you.
The Love Guru
1. Star who has seen funnier days: Mike Myers
2. Last genuinely funny in: Austin Powers 2 (1999)
3. Celebrity cameos: too many to mention
4. Plot: Acclaimed Self-help Guru is recruited to help a Canadian ice hockey star get his mojo back
5. Cringe factor: High
6. Comedy factor: Low (-brow)
7. Comedy Highlight: Ice hockey match interrupted by fornicating elephants
8. Racial insensitivity: Indian
9. Attractive female lead: Jessica Alba
10. Worth Watching? Definitely not
Notable mentions: This really is Austin Powers in a new fancy-dress outfit and old gags. Myers’ character laughs at every bad joke he makes: these are largely genital-orientated and would have 10 year olds groaning at how juvenile they are. It actually makes you mentally revisit his older films and wonder why you ever found him funny. Sir Ben Kingsley’s “farting mentor” character is also worth mentioning for how hideously bad it really is.
You Don’t Mess With The Zohan
1. Star who has seen funnier days: Adam Sandler
2. Last genuinely funny in: debatable, but probably The Wedding Singer ( 1998 )
3. Celebrity cameos: Mariah Carey, John McEnroe, George Takei, Chris Rock
4. Plot: Israeli super-spy moves to New York to be a hairdresser
5. Cringe factor: Moderate
6. Comedy factor: Better than expected
7. Comedy Highlight: International hackey-sack match gets interrupted for a Disco Break
8. Racial insensitivity: Arabs and Jews
9. Attractive female lead: Emmanuelle Chriqui (no, me neither)
10. Worth Watching? Its definitely a guilty pleasure, but don’t get your hopes up.
Notable mentions: Adam Sandler seemed to pretty much offend everyone going with his last misfire about two firemen pretending to be a gay couple. It feels slightly like he’s attempting to redress that a bit with a character who is an unstoppable hetero-F*machine, but obsesses over the camp world of hairdressing. Its still incredibly lowbrow, but sort of acknowledges that at the same time. The racial jokes are justabout excusable as they are normally self-mocking. There’s also a lot of old lady sexing, so you might not want to eat whilst you’re watching.
1. Star who has seen funnier days: Rob Schneider
2. Last genuinely funny in: again, debatable, but probably Deuce Bigelow (1999)
3. Celebrity Cameos: David Carradine, M Emmet Walsh
4. Plot: Fraudulent real estate agent gets sent to prison, but not until he’s had time to master martial arts self defence
5. Cringe factor: High
6. Comedy Factor: Mediocre
7. Comedy Highlight: Actually, nothing springs to mind. Schneider trying to eat a live scorpion with a knife and fork perhaps.
8. Racial insensitivity: pretty much every stereotype going gets a moment of attention in the prison scenes
9. Attractive female lead: Jennifer Morisson
10. Worth Watching? Not really, no.
Notable mentions: Schneider’s directing debut. It’s absolutely OBSESSED with male rape and anal violation (but, y’know, in a “hilarious” way). The martial arts sequences are strangely straight-faced, which comes off sort of like Steven Seagal wanting to crack jokes. Schneider seems to excel at short cameos in other people’s films (such as Zohan), and one cant help but feel that he should concentrate on that. It’s also hard to watch without the South Park treatment of Schneider bouncing around your head the whole time.
So there you have it – three vehicles for three relatively big names who haven’t been at their prime for a while. Each film does have the odd gag or moment that catches you off guard and is amusing, but none of them have enough material to really warrant an hour and a half of your life. Comedy movies are always pretty cheap-looking too, and these are no exception. If you were held at gunpoint and had to pick one to watch, I’d suggest Zohan.
I think what for me unifies these films is that they all seem terribly old hat. Comedy is seemingly at its funniest when it reflects the mindset and tastes of its audience, and all of these fail to grasp that particular contemporary nuance, trapped somehow in a late 90’s doldrum of gross-out cock jokes, primary coloured slapstick, and the clichéd character arc of having a “hero with a special skill who gets knocked down a few pegs before learning an Important Lesson”. Personally speaking, I like to experience something new and interesting when I watch a film, whereas these all feel like something I watched one intoxicated night at university ten years ago.
There are some potentially very good comedies on the cinematic horizon: Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Hamlet 2, and Step Brothers all appear to be brimming with potential, and I hope at least one of them lives up to that, because it feels like a long time since I had a good laugh in the cinema.