Even when this movie is at its dumbest, and that is very, very dumb indeed, even when it launches, or, I should say, lurches, into its umpeenth attempt to find humor in having its main character get beat up/crushed/knocked over or act like a 12-year-old around the girl he has a crush on, somehow, we still keep rooting for it because Andy Samberg is funny. Even his hair is funny.
Reportedly this was originally written for Will Ferrell and then someone realized that even the energetic Ferrell could not possibly make a silly movie about every loser who every tried any sport, so it was turned over to the latest “Saturday Night Live” breakthrough, Lazy Sunday‘s Samberg, who adapted it, with the friends he’s been working with since childhood, for his rather more surreal sensibilities.
This is the story of Rod Kimble, a would-be stuntman who does not seem to notice that he never successfully completes a stunt (the Ferrell part). He goes to the woods to “punch-dance out my rage,” has an extended exchange with his half-brother that consists entirely of their saying “cool beans” to each other and celebrate by popping bubble wrap. And Rod’s question for the girl of his dreams (Isla Fisher as Denise) is who would win a fight between a grilled cheese sandwich and a taco. This is the Samberg part.
Her well-reasoned response? “The grilled cheese, but only in a fair fight. If it’s prison rules, I’d pick the taco.” Clearly, they are destined to be together. And then there’s a cameo appearance by a character in a Dickens novel.
These dementedly random moments make up for some of the more sluggish, thuggish elements. When Rod falls down a mountain, he really falls down the mountain in a scene that is hilariously prolonged. But too much of the movie is just seeing Rod get beaten like a pinata (literally). If you think it is funny to see someone get beat up many, many times, to hear that crunch of bone on bone, to see a man beg for the respect of his stepfather (Ian McShane) only to be told it will not happen until he defeats him in a fight, to see Sissy Spacek wander around in a daze, probably because she cannot figure out what she is doing in this movie, to see adult males act like 12-year-olds around women and refer to the “boner police” — if you can understand the references in a Nickelback joke, AND if you think there is such a thing as a Nickelback joke, and only then, you might enjoy this film.
Parents should know that this movie has brief strong language (one f-word), many crude words and some sexual references, homophobic insults, vulgar humor, a brief scene of dogs having sex, constant comic cartoon-style violence (no one hurt) including domestic violence, drinking, including buying liquor to respond to disillusionment, smoking, hallucinogenic drug use, and potty humor.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Rod felt he had to prove himself? Why did Denise like Rod? What does it mean to sell out? This movie was made by three people who have been making funny movies together since they were kids -– would you and your friends like to try to make a movie?