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.

 

Big Stan


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.

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6 thoughts on “The Love Guru, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Big Stan – movie reviews.

  1. This post comes at a perfect time for me – because I needed a good place to air similar commentary! As only a night ago, I had the misfortune to watch the supposed comedy “Be Kind Rewind” starring Jack Black, Mos Def and Danny Glover. A great idea for a film (so great that I was really looking forward to seeing it) is turned into a weird, messy, mediocre bag of pretentious, nonsensical, overly sentimental and exceedingly depressing… shite. Some great talent was totally wasted in that movie. A truly depressing time was had by me and my wife and we both commented how glad we were that we never bothered paying to see that at the cinema.

    Sadly enough, the last supposed “comedy” movie I watched prior to “Be Kind Rewind” was “Kickin It Old Skool” a couple of months ago. Now that really was the biggest pile of vomit I’ve seen in the name of entertainment in recent times. Yet again, a decent idea for a comedy movie was turned into visual sewage with an extremely high “retarded humour” factor. I felt really sorry for Michael Rosenbaum – who I like a lot and think he deserves better than crap like that.

    Funnily enough, both “Be Kind Rewind” and “Kickin It Old Skool” couldn’t be more different, couldn’t be less funnier and, yet, both attempt some kind of retro 80s vibe and completely fail in the “hilarious comedy” stakes.

  2. Oh christ yea, Kicking it Old Skool was one truly arduous piece of tosh – god only knows who ever found Jamie Kennedy amusing in the first place – everything ive ever seen him in just appears to be gurning or painfully obvious schtick.

    As for Be Kind Rewind, its a funny conundrum that one – i tried to my utmost to like it as i enjoy Gondry’s work, but its so cloying and do-gooding that it’s ultimately off-putting. There are some great visual quirks in there, but I think he needs to get back in touch with Charlie Kaufmann and get some decent scripts again.

  3. Yeah, likewise, I tried hard to like “Be Kind Rewind” too as I am also a fan of Gondry’s music video work – The Chemical Brothers’ “Let Forever Be” being a firm fave of mine and I also love the multiple Kylie one.

    The two things I can say good about the film is that it has charm and plenty of good ideas (some ideas of which reminded me of the “Let Forever Be” promo). And it is reasonably well acted.
    Unfortunately nothing really worked for me to care. I am a total fan of weird and wonderfully strange and nutty movies from “The Man Who Fell To Earth” to “Tetsuo”, “A Zed & Two Noughts” to “The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb”. I have a huge appreciation for fresh, original, off-the-edge cinematic art. But “Be Kind Rewind” just totally failed me in all areas.

    The comedy was flat and often desperate. The movie dragged from the very start and I wondered why practically nothing interesting was happening. I thought that the scene where Jack gets magnetised at the power plant seemed totally out of place in this movie – despite the fact that it is the reason why all of the tapes are wiped in the video store.

    The “sweded” term got annoying very quickly and felt really forced – a deliberate attempt to spin off some sort of cheap film-making craze for the youtube generation (which has, unfortunately happened apparently).
    I would say that the main thing to blame for the movie not working is the overbearing and, to an extent, completely uninteresting back story to do with forgotten Jazz legend “Fats Waller” – it made the film feel like two or more movies stitched together, not having much to do with one another and not making any sense.

    Sigourney Weaver’s cameo was another bomb in this film. The one decent joke they could have done was have an “Alien” in-joke/reference in that scene she’s in and they didn’t even bother doing that. I suppose the reference point was supposed to be “Ghostbusters” but that came far earlier back in the film for anyone to care. And, besides, having one of the Ghostbusters would have been a better idea – I’m sure Ackroyd would have been up for a cameo if asked.
    The more I think (and rant) about it, the more I realise that “Be Kind Rewind” was just so wrong on so many levels. And now I have a headache!

    Someone on IMDb said it best:
    “Be kind… just kill me.”

    Anyway, sorry about all that! I obviously have too much time to kill!!

  4. Blimey Cosmo – you must be bored!

    “The “sweded” term got annoying very quickly and felt really forced – a deliberate attempt to spin off some sort of cheap film-making craze for the youtube generation (which has, unfortunately happened apparently).”

    yep – i wholeheartedly agree with that – granted it was quite a canny piece of marketing, raising the brand awareness, getting the name spaffed all over the net, but i think its a source of humour that Gondry pretty much milked dry in the film, and seeing other people’s home-made lego-based remakes of Aliens or whatever is not really an appealing way for me to pass my time.

    Good thinking about the Weaver cameo too – i hadnt really analysed that much beyond “Oh Look! its Ripley!” but yer quite right – Ackroyd would have most likely been happy to do it.

    anyway, woooosaaaaah. Let’s all try and move on. . . and thanks for stopping by!

  5. Heh heh. Your welcome! 😉 Sorry that was so longwinded – I was busy – well, chilling really, listening to your Robo Suite mixes and checking out your blog whilst I was uploading stuff for CosmoBells. Blame it on a night of drinking way too many schnapps (I guess that’s where the headache came from) and having a head full of movie criticism! Yeah, I’m definitely moving on now so catch you laters, mate, and keep up the great work. Really enjoying your blog! 🙂

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