I was lured into watching this film under false pretenses. Take a look at that poster. Go on, click it, take a good look. Chevy Chase, Burt Reynolds, Vinnie Jones. Not exactly small names. OK, so Vinnie Jones isn’t exactly an A-lister, but he’s been around. And Chevy Chase and Burt Reynolds, though “past their prime” according to some, are both experienced actors who can be really funny when they put their minds to it. And other promotional material mentioned Michael Madsen as well, and he turned in a great performance in Reservoir Dogs. So it seemed like it had the talent. And it promises to take a shot at the creators of all those really awful spoof movies, most particularly the “Not Another” brand. Chevy Chase and Burt Reynolds making a comedy about a terrible movie studio producing terrible movies… hey, that could be pretty good. And OK, there’s that other guy, David Schultz, on the poster too. But the early news blurbs (I remember first hearing about this in 2009) didn’t mention him, just Chase and Reynolds. Nearly all of the marketing, even down to the blurb Hulu puts on the film, only mentions Chase, Reynolds, Jones, and Madsen.
It is, of course, all about the other guy. David Schultz wrote the film, along with director David Murphy, and so Schultz has the lead role. And the film suffers greatly for it. And I suffered greatly from watching it.
How could you do it, Chevy? How could you betray me like this?
Chevy Chase plays Max Storm, the owner of Sunshine Studios, a nearly-bankrupt film studio whose “major” films include Vampires in Space, Vampires in Mexico, and Vampires in Mexico 2. You know, quality films. When their latest film, Titanic 2: The Ghost Story, flops despite the star power of C.J. Waters (Reynolds) in the mafia scenes, the owner decides to return to his ice cream business and let his younger brother, played by Michael Madsen, take the reins. Later his lawyer, Vinnie Jones, takes over for him. These veteran actors put in the best performances of the film, so it’s a real shame that their roles, in total, take up at most 20 minutes of the 100 minute run time. What’s worse, despite one of them being the lawyer for one, who is the brother of another, who employs the fourth, none of them interact with each other at any point. Their segments are separate, short, and are just good enough to make you think there could have been a good film here if the talent were actually present for the entirety of the film.
Instead we get this guy.
The man with the highly punchable face there is David Schultz, as his character, Randy. He takes up almost the entirety of the film, and every second he is on screen is unbearable. In fairness to Schultz, I don’t know if he’s genuinely a bad actor, or if it’s just a bad character; on the other hand, Schultz wrote the character, presumably for himself, so either way he bears 100% of the blame. Randy’s the “production assistant” — i.e., janitor — of Sunshine Studios, and he’s got a few problems. He was abused as a child, and is mistreated by his co-workers who can’t even remember his name. He’s narcoleptic. And he’s a complete and total moron. He occupies that special area of the Venn diagram of personalities where incompetence, naivete, passive-aggression and delusions of grandeur overlap. This is a guy who breaks out into copied rap songs at poetry readings, who constantly takes back his declarations of love to his crush in case she actually thinks he’s serious, and who thinks that his bosses making his paychecks out to “Ben” is a practical joke instead of a mistake that needs correcting.
My favorite part is when Burt Reynolds shoots him. Sadly he survives.
He’s the protagonist, even though it boggles the mind to think that Schultz and Murphy think anybody would actually want to spend an hour and a half watching this guy. His stupidity is meant to be funny, but it’s not; it’s just stupid. It’s the same mental-deficient comic sidekick we’ve seen hundreds of times in two-star comedies, only here he’s not the sidekick, he’s the focus. Such a character is difficult to take even in small doses, let alone for the entire length of a film. He’s fundamentally unlikeable, and yet the film keeps trying to convince us to like him. Nowhere does this fail more utterly than in his romantic interest, Wendy (Ellie Gerber). Gerber does a decent, if unspectacular job of playing this almost completely undeveloped love interest. But there’s absolutely no chemistry between the two. There’s almost anti-chemistry; watching the two of them together immediately raises the question of why she isn’t running screaming in the other direction, their interactions feel so unnatural. It’s the Uncanny Valley in relationship form. The closest we get to an answer on why she would like him is that he visits his Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother, which might be enough to make her think he’s a nice person, but doesn’t justify the movie’s attempt to make us believe that she feels any physical, intellectual, or emotional attraction to him. Of course, we never hear why he’s attracted to her either, but at least she’s pretty, and apparently nice enough to talk to him.
I’d say she’s out of his league, but I’m not sure he would actually be accepted into a league.
Nearly as inexplicable is the studio allowing him to direct a film. He gets handed the reins because the film is his idea, but even then I would expect any real studio to have one of their actual directors do it, instead of letting the “production assistant” direct and re-assign everybody’s roles in the cast and crew. Especially when the character is known to be a moron by everybody. And the nature of the film? The eponymous Not Another Not Another Movie, an “improvisational” spoof movie of spoof movies. Randy hates spoof movies, due to his abusive father forcing them on him, and during his narcoleptic sleep attacks, he dreams of terrible spoof movies. And they are terrible. They’re not entertainingly bad, they’re just plain bad. But every time Randy nods off, we’re subjected to another unimaginative riff on a popular movie. But despite his hatred of spoof movies, Randy winds up pitching one in a panic when his script for a dramatic story about a boy and his tricycle is stolen by his co-worker Wes (James Piper) and rejected for being terrible.
So the entire thing hinges on the imagination of a guy whose idea of humor is “Fat John McClane”.
The film is shot in a mockumentary format, even though we never get an idea of who is doing the shooting, or why they’d be documenting Sunshine Studio, or why they would spend so much time focused on Randy even before his directorial assignment, let alone Randy’s private life. It helps to identify the characters, but that’s about it (and since I’ve banished most of the one-note characters from my memory, it doesn’t really do that well at that.) So we have a spoof about a studio that is making a spoof movie that spoofs spoof movies, in a meta-humor attempt to spoof real-life spoof movies. It’s a spoof loop. It’s a sploopf, which by coincidence is the sound the film would make if thrown into a compost heap, which I wish it had been. Of course, it nearly was; initial marketing made it sound like this would be a theatrical release (it even has a theatrical-style poster), but to the best of my knowledge it never was; it was finally released in 2011, apparently direct-to-video.
The jokes are not at all funny. They’re either tired retreads of ideas we’ve seen thousands of times, or they’re spoof attempts that are every bit as lame as the spoofs they’re trying to spoof, or on the rare occasion they have a decent setup for an idea, they blow it. At one point Randy and co-worker Matt (Declan Joyce) are debating movie greats, among them the scariest villain in movies. Randy mentions that he was given nightmares by the bad guy in Kindergarten Cop. During casting, Richard Tyson shows up as himself, and Randy freaks. It could have been a funny gag, except for the fact the pay-off requires the audience to have seen Kindergarten Cop, and cared enough to remember who the bad guy was, and be able to recognize Richard Tyson on sight, which seems like a mighty long and spurious chain of assumptions. The result is a joke that only makes sense after it’s explained, which isn’t a very good joke. Considering they were somehow able to get some name actors for the film, perhaps they could have gone with a villain that the audience would realistically be able to identify?
I can suggest one option without even stretching their budget.
There is nothing likeable about this film. The characters are, at best, shallow and one-dimensional, and most of them are irritating, none more so than the character the film spends the most time with. The jokes are unfunny, the spoofs are lame, and it does not succeed at its stated goal of skewering the movie studios that produce spoof movies. It just winds up being a very weak example of the genre itself. I strongly recommend against watching this film, even in a desire to see how bad a film can be. I nearly stopped it playing a dozen times (which, considering the film didn’t last two hours, meant that I found each ten-minute stretch unbearable.) I suffered through it merely so I could give an honest review of the film. To be honest, while I have appreciated having my review blog for many reasons, this is the first time I’ve been glad to have it after a bad film. I needed this review for the purpose of catharsis, to get this repulsively terrible film out of my mind. This film is not merely bad, it’s depressingly bad. I don’t mean it’s a sad film; it ends on a positive note for most characters. It’s just that it’s so bad that it literally had me feeling bad for having watched it. It occurred to me that a smart spoof has to be smarter than the material it’s spoofing; and since I haven’t actually seen any of the “Not Another” franchise of spoofs, I can’t actually rule out the possibility that Not Another Not Another Movie is genuinely smarter than those films. And that thought is so depressing I couldn’t go to sleep immediately after watching this film; I had to watch a couple episodes of Batman to make myself feel better first. But virtually anything would have been an improvement. The better part of 7 months remains in the year, but I think I already have my front-runner for worst viewing experience for the year.