A film review by Craig J. Koban

 
 

 
 

BROKEN LIZARD'S CLUB DREAD j

2004, R, 103 mins.

Coconut Pete: Bill Paxton / Putman: Jay Chandrasekhar / Juan: Steve Lemme / Dave: Paul Soter / Jenny: Britanny Daniel / Sam: Erik Stolhanske / Lars: Kevin Heffernan

Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar /  Written by Broken Lizard

Ouch!  How could the same comedy troupe that gave us the ridiculously funny SUPER TROOPERS provide such a disappointing follow-up?  All the material is here: laughable and loveable characters, some inspired moments of satire, and a couple of big, gigantic laughs.  I emphasize “a couple” because the jokes in this one are few and far between, and I expected a lot more out of Broken Lizard.  Unfortunately, their CLUB DREAD is a real let down. 

The group’s first film was uproariously funny, as it poked fun at highway state patrol officers.  It had several classic scenes, as with the one where one patrolman makes a wager how many times he can say “meow” to a speeder they’ve pulled over, or yet another where several of the troopers engage in a pancake syrup chugging contest (“You got to relax your jaw more,” one patrolman advises the rookie).  It also had a funny performance by team leader Jay Chandrasekhar, whose officer made several funny hints at his ethnic origins. 

But CLUB DREAD is a  misfire for the troupe that looked poised to be a major comedy force.  It’s a largely hit or miss affair, with more jokes and pratfalls that bomb instead of ones that succeed, and a plot that is all over the map.  Perhaps they were trying to lampoon too many themes at once (i.e. - exotic resort clubs, slasher flicks, etc), but the film is nevertheless weak and about a twenty minutes too long.  That’s a shame, because Broken Lizard has talent, they just need to discipline it a bit more effectively. 

The basic premise of the film is chuckle inducing.  The movie was filmed in Mexico but allegedly set on "Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island" off the coast of Costa Rica, a pleasure palace of exotic locales and events.  Oh, it’s also the setting of a mad slasher who’s picking off resort members one by one.  C’mon, Broken Lizard, has this genre not been spoofed to death by the SCARY MOVIE franchise already?

Pleasure Island is run by Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton, in a role that you would think would inspire big laughs but instills more feelings of embarrassment).  Pete, a long time ago, had a record that was a hit for five minutes. The record, the very amusingly named  "Pina Colada-burg," reached heights of the charts unseen of before.  Pete’s resort is one of those endless 24/7 orgies of drinking and sex.  The women wear next to nothing, the men are as hornier as ever (and stoned)…all in all…a well rounded resort if I’ve ever seen one.

Unfortunately, this crazy island has a crazy on it.  A mad slasher makes his presence felt and starts picking off people one by one, ala I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.   He’s kind of dressed like the slasher from that film, but also looks like death crossed with the UNDERTAKER.  It's amazing to think, but if you were a made serial killer, would you not want to dress in the most conspicuous manner possible not to make people  recognize you?  Wouldn’t a black outfit and a ski mask do?  The movie is amusing in one respect: The killer only targets staff members, who make every attempt to conceal the murders from their paying customers.  Clearly, if the vacationers knew about the mad slasher (like they wouldn’t?) something like that could spoil a vacation. One amusing moment has an aerobics instructor trying to flee the murderer in a golf cart, in the least good way to flee from a murderer as I could ever see.

Slasher flicks, at least ones that are trying to be spoofed, and both hard to do and pointless and redundant at the same time.   Broken Lizard's Jay Chandrasekhar does inspire many laughs, however, as a pompous tennis coach.  He may be British…or Jamaican…we really don’t know.  He does have one mean serve though, as he tries to dispose of the slasher with one of them (in a funny scene).  Yet, as good as he is in the film, as its director, he misses some real opportunities for great broad comedy, and many scenes in the film induce watch checking more than bend-over-backwards laughing.  There are some amusing characters in the film.  There’s a “funcop” that is in charge of, well, enforcing fun, a Swedish masseuse, and an aerobics instructor who seems to do her best work in the bedroom. Steve Lemme is quite funny as a Latino diving teacher with a hefty accent, ditto for Kevin Hefferman whose the masseur with the magic touch to send  women to instant ecstasy.  Bill Paxton is the film’s real disappointment, who seems to sleepwalk and slum through the part.  He’s funny for about five minutes, and then painfully wears out his welcome.

The problem with this film is that it’s just not funny enough.  The best of the recent screen comedies (i.e. ANCHORMAN) have a consistent laugh rate.  The five troupe members are funny, yes, but only intermittently, and the film seems to have a great deal of difficulty deciding whether it wants to be a lampoon of slasher  or resort films.  It’s really more or less an uninspired T&A film with a few giggles and a surprising amount of gore.  But the real place the film lacks is in energy and wit.  SUPER TROOPERS worked hard for its laughs, and achieved, more or less, consistent success.  CLUB DREAD is a horror/comedy that’s not very scary, nor too terribly amusing.  Not only that, the plot is all over the place and is so lethargic that it provided moments of intense boredom.

BROKEN LIZARD’S CLUB DREAD a meandering mess of a comedy.  I say this with a great amount of displeasure, seeing as I found SUPER TROOPERS to be such a hilarious 90 minutes.  If you like a lot of gross out humor followed by lots of babes in bikinis and the occasional witty prank punctuated by violence and beheadings, then this is the film for you.  For the rest of us that have modestly high hopes for Broken Lizard, I hope they rebound in their third film, and they need to do so right “meow”.

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