Saturday, April 18, 2020

It Came From The Cineplex: Impractical Jokers: The Movie

I saw this "movie" back in February, a couple weeks before the world ended. I wasn't gonna bother writing about it, but since there's no new content here in our post apocalyptic world, I figured why not? I saw the damn thing, so you're gonna share my pain.

Impractical Jokers: The Movie was "written" by Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn, Sal Vulcano and Chris Henchy. It was "directed" by Chris Henchy.

Gatto, Murray, Quinn and Vulcano are the stars of the Impractical Jokers hidden camera TV series, which has run for an astonishing EIGHT seasons, and as near as I can tell is still in production. The quartet formed an improv group called The Tenderloins in 1999, and have been creating content for YouTube and other online media sites ever since. In 2011 they pitched the idea for the Impractical Jokers show to the truTV network (whatever that is), who picked it up.

Henchy wrote various shorts and TV episodes before graduating into film. He previously wrote Land Of The Lost (2009), The Other Guys and The Campaign, which should tell you everything you need to know about his level of talent. Impractical Jokers: The Movie is his directorial debut.

Full disclosure: I am NOT a fan of the Impractical Jokers TV show or its ostensible "stars," so this is gonna be an unavoidably biased review. I watched a couple clips from the series on YouTube several years ago, and was barely able to get through them. I don't much care for the cringeworthy hidden camera pranks featured in the series.

I've also never been able to stand comedians who laugh at their own material. Seeing the Jokers giggling uncontrollably at their own hilarious antics just grated on my nerves.

So why did I bother seeing a movie based on a show I don't like? Believe me, it wasn't my idea. There was f*ck-all playing at the theater that particular weekend, as my Movie-Going Pal and I had already seen everything of interest. I suggested we just not see anything at all and watch a blu ray at my house. Unfortunately he's a HUGE fan of the Impractical Jokers show, and really wanted to see the movie. He assured me that I'd like it once I started watching it. I knew that was a load of crap, but grudgingly agreed to go anyway.

Of course the movie was everything I thought it would be— dull, shockingly unfunny and literally painful to sit through. The movie clocks in at a brisk ninety three minutes, but I swear it felt more like four hours. I honestly wanted to just get up and leave, which is something that hasn't happened since Transformers: Age Of Extinction. I didn't drive though, so I'd have had no way home. I should have called an Uber.

I wasn't kidding when I said the movie wasn't the least bit humorous. I sat through the entire interminable runtime completely stone-faced, without so much as cracking a smile. And it wasn't because I'm not a fan of the show and didn't want to be there. The theater was surprisingly full, and I didn't hear a peep from the rest of the audience either. The silence in that theater was both deafening and telling. If you like your comedies laugh-free, then this is your movie!

At what point can a movie no longer be called a movie? How little content or entertainment value can a film contain before it can't be classified as a film? Impractical Jokers: The Movie definitively answers that question. This isn't a film. It's not even an extended episode of the TV series that somehow made its way into theaters. It's nothing. It's amazing how few of the elements traditionally associated with a movie are contained in this one.

It's a "movie" filled with a tiny handful of segments strung together by the slightest of plots. No, strike that
— it's not even a plot. More like a rough outline.

Fans of the TV show will be disappointed by the paltry few hidden camera pranks. Film buffs will be dissatisfied by the lack of everything else. So who the hell was this movie for?

Somehow this film had a budget of $3 million dollars, despite the fact it looks like it cost a hundred times less. Even more astonishing is that it grossed $10.6 million dollars! And that was BEFORE the viral apocalypse shut down cineplexes nationwide! If the theaters were still open it'd probably have grossed at least $50 million. I honestly don't get it.


The "Plot:"
In 1994, four Staten Island teens
— Brian Quinn, James "Murr" Murray, Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto (all playing fictionalized versions of themselves)— desperately want to go to the Paula Abdul concert. Unfortunately the show's sold out, so the Jokers (as the four are known) come up with the brilliant plan to don yellow jackets and pose as security personnel to sneak in.

Amazingly their plan works. Unfortunately they become a little too excited and end up ruining the concert. As the real security chases the Jokers out of the arena, Paula Abdul vows to get revenge on them
— even if it takes twenty five years.

Cut to twenty five years later. The guys are now the stars of their own improbably successful TV show, Impractical Jokers. They go out for a meal at Red Lobster, their favorite mid-priced menu restaurant. There they run into Paula Abdul, who's inexplicably dining there as well.

When Abdul sees the Jokers, she calls them over to her table. The guys are afraid she's going to take her revenge on them then and there, but soon realize she recognizes them from TV, not as the jerks who ruined her concert. Whew!

Abdul tells the Jokers she's a huge fan of their show (I guess there's no accounting for taste) and invites them to a big bash she's throwing in Miami. She tells her assistant to give them tickets to the party, then sashays out of the restaurant.

The guys are ecstatic until they notice she only gave them three tickets, meaning one of them won't be able to go. Oh, the humanity!

Instead of simply contacting Abdul and explaining the oversight like normal humans, the guys decide to have a contest. They take a road trip to Miami, and along the way they compete in a contest to see who'll be left out of the party.

And that's the so-called "plot!" No, really! The rest of the movie consists of a handful of unfunny hidden camera gags, as each Joker tries to get the others to lose. At one point Joe, Sal and Murr want to quit and go home to their families. In a bizarre attempt to give the movie some "heart," Brian tells them they have to finish what they started, and they continue to Florida.

After one last challenge, Murr ends up being the loser and has to stay in a hotel while the other three Jokers go to Paula Abdul's party. The other Jokers begin missing Murr, realizing it's not right that they should have a good time while he's alone. Just as they decide to go get him, Murr shows up at the party, having sneaked in by wearing a yellow security jacket.

Abdul sees Murr's yellow jacket and suddenly recognizes the Jokers as the ones who ruined her concert twenty five years ago. All hell then breaks loose, and she and her bodyguards attack the Jokers.

Suddenly Joe gets onstage and begins singing one of Abdul's songs. She sees the crowd getting into it, and inexplicably decides to drop the matter and join in.

The next day the guys sit on the beach, reminiscing about the party. Murr says Paula Abdul gave him tickets to fly back home on her private plane (?). Unfortunately she only gave him three. Cut to Brian, Sal and Joe flying home in style, while Murr is strapped to the wing of a biplane. Ha, I guess?

By the way, it occurs to me that this synopsis not only makes it seem like there's a plot, but that it's actually somewhat interesting. I apologize for the confusion.

• Honestly there's not much to say about this movie, so anyone hoping to see me spend 50,000 words ripping it a new asshole may be disappointed.

• Back in the 2000s, 
Johnny Knoxville and his pals had great success with the Jackass movie franchise. In fact the first movie in the series grossed nearly $80 million on its $5 million budget. Knoxville simply replicated the format of the hit TV show on the big screen, but took advantage of the movie's bigger budget to stage more elaborate stunts and used the lack of censorship to make them even raunchier.

One would think the Impractical Jokers would have followed this proven formula and created a theatrical version of their show— one that was bigger and better than the TV series. Nope! In fact, for a movie called Impractical Jokers, there's very little impractical joking in it. Instead of concentrating on their trademark hidden camera pranks, the guys seem much more invested in the threadbare plot. 

 The few pranks included in the film are oddly lifeless, laugh-free and go absolutely nowhere. In one, the guys lock Murr in a room with a live tiger. Oh, my sides! In another, they ditch Brian and force him to dress in a suit of armor and ride a horse to their motel. Hilarious!

Even the handful of pranks involving unsuspecting members of the public are misfires. Their marks look more puzzled than outraged by the Jokers' behavior. 

Maybe after eight seasons they've simply run out of ideas for stunts? There's a solution for that, guys— it's called "hiring actual writers!"

 The movie begins with a flashback to 1994, when the Jokers were seventeen. Rather than cast actual teens here, the guys— who are all now in their early forties— play their younger selves. It works about as well as you'd expect.

Of course finding four seventeen year olds who looked like the guys would have taken a lot of effort— something this film avoids at all costs.

I assume the fact that these middle aged guys play teenagers at the beginning of the film was meant as a joke. In fact when Brian first appears in a horribly unconvincing wig, he turns to the camera and says, "Just go with it!" Such is the humor in this movie. 

 I should know better than to expect logic in a "film" like this, but here goes. Late in the third act, the guys are ready to drive back to Staten Island. Murr says there's no need, as Paula Abdul gifted them with tickets on her private jet.

Wait, what? So Abdul owns her own private jet, but you need tickets to fly on it? Even worse, she only gave them three tickets, so one of the Jokers can't fly back home. So instead of all four of them simply boarding, one has to stay behind because he doesn't have a "ticket" to a celebrity's private jet. That... that doesn't make any goddamned sense.

 In the final shot of the movie, Murr flies back to New York on top of a red biplane.

Amazingly this wasn't a CGI effect. James Murray really did agree to be strapped to the top of an airplane. Supposedly he took out a life insurance policy beforehand, in case anything went wrong. 

Jesus Christ, Murr... it's your business if you want to risk your life, but not for this movie!

Impractical Jokers: The Movie is a desperately unfunny and painful ninety three minutes of lackluster gags and a threadbare outline that can't even properly be called a film. Even if I was a die hard fan of the TV series I'd be disappointed with this lackluster version, and wouldn't be able to give it more than a middling C. As someone who's not a fan of the Jokers, I'm giving it a well-deserved D+.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter