Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'Witless Protection': A wit-free comedy

Witless Protection (2008)
Starring: Larry the Cable Guy (Daniel Lawrence Whitney), Ivana Milicevic, Yaphet Kotto, Ivana Milicevic, Eric Roberts, Joe Mantegna, and Jenny McCarthy
Director: Charles Robert Carner
Rating: One of Two Stars

A dimwitted small-town sheriff's deputy with dreams of some day being an FBI agent (Whitney) becomes the sole protector of a key witness in a Federal corruption trial (Milicevic) when he separates her from her security detail in the mistaken belief they are kidnappers. Can a cop dumber than a box of rocks get a witness safely to trial when hitmen and both legit and corrupt FBI agents are hunting both him and his charge?

"Witless Protection" is one of those comedies where the main character is so stupid that he succeeds because the bad guys constantly under-estimate the depth of idiocy. Basically, Larry the Deputy is what Inspector Clouseau would be like if he had been raised on a steady diet of lead paint chips and "Hee-Haw" re-runs. Every joke and situation in the film plays to the lowest common denominator, so this is one of those cases where it's imperative to leave your brain in neutral while watching, or you won't find any enjoyment here whatsoever. (A plus to the movie not challenging even the slowest of minds is that the solitary plot twist it features does come as a surprise; it anything but a movie as stupid as this, you'd see it coming a mile away, but here it's unexpected.)

It's a comedy that probably was funnier on paper, because it's main character COULD have worked and COULD have been funny if the actor playing the character had an air of likability, or perhaps just a tiny bit of grace or class. Unfortunately, as funny as Whitney can be when doing stand-up as "Larry the Cable Guy," the persona simply doesn't work in this movie. This character is so stupid and so crass that it's impossible to buy him as any sort of law enforcement figure; the aforementioned Clouseau can fake his way through an investigation, but the character here will fool no one, because he's a lethal combination of idiocy and completely lack of social grace.

While everyone in the movie is clearly game and trying their best to make it work, and Yaphet Kotto and Eric Roberts are amusing as the baffled antagonists trying to outwit a high-functioning retard, the center of the film simply isn't up for the task.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fast Food Nation: Most Boring Film Ever?

Fast Food Nation (2006)
Starring: Greg Kinnear and Catalina Sandino Moreno
Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

I've tried three times to sit through this movie. The longest I lasted was 43 minutes, and then I decided cleaning my bathroom would be a far better use of my time.

The story revolves around a fast food company executive (Kinnear) who gradually comes to realize he is working for an Evil Corrupting Influence in America and (near as I can tell, since I've never lasted long enough to see where the film ends up) eventually joins with the minimum wage workers in the company's restaurants and the exploited illegal aliens who work in the food processing plants in a "revolt" against the company.

I can imagine all kinds of biting, hard-hitting and extremely funny satire in the film's subject matter, even if I don't agree with some of the political messages co-writer/director Linklater is shoving down viewers' throats like foul-tasting Big Macs. But, sadly, Linklater seems more interested in preaching politics than actually entertaining... and as such he actually managed to make a political comedy less funny than "Silver City" and An American Carol. (I could at least sit through those travesties.)

I suppose I'm being a little unfair giving this movie a Zero Rating since I haven't watched the whole thing. Considering some of the crap I have been able to sit through that I awarded the lowest possible rating to, I think three failed attempts at getting through this ill-begotten sermon make it an appropriate and fair rating.

I'd love to hear a defense of the film, though. Does it better? Should I have used the "chapters" feature to skip the huge swaths of film that put me in mind of the cow dung that is supposedly in the fast food burgers that serve as the film's running thread?