I love Broken Lizard. They work together harmoniously, complimenting one another in a way the comedy troupe Monty Python always did. I see them as America’s version of the Python’s. I’m sure I’m not the first to say that, but I’m sure they’re tired of hearing it. Outside of that mention, I’ll not be comparing the two. I feel very strongly about Broken Lizard and their work. Are any of them involved in a project? If the answer is “Yes,” I’m there. I enjoy comedy to a fault. It’s a hardy laugh that gets me through the tough times and the moment I saw “Super Troopers,” I welcomed these gents into my life. I’ve seen that movie at least a dozen times, by the way.
“Club Dread,” “Beerfest,” and their work highly entertained me. “Quasi,” however, had a different feel. The group, each playing other characters, didn’t mesh as well as they had in the movies of their past. The comedy was often there, and the group of guys whose work I can’t wait to see was present, so what had me so conflicted as I watched their newest, yet unbalanced, offering?
In the past, their films were directed by the unassailable, accomplished Jay Chandrasekhar. His work over the years has made him the comedy director of choice for many producing a TV series these days. Most of his directing is very well received. I have no doubt the difference I felt about “Qausi” was a direct reflection of the fact that the man in the director’s chair wasn’t Chandrasekhar, but Kevin Heffernan, who directed the poorly favored “Slammin’ Salmon.” The gang all write the films together, and Chandrasekhar is always busy directing and starring in their movies. It’s a lot to juggle, but over the years, he’s gotten very skilled at the fine-tuning it takes to make these films a success.
Heffernan is excellent at highlighting humor in characters that would typically be overlooked. It’s what he’s best at and where he should concentrate his efforts. If Jay Chandrasekhar can’t be in the driver’s seat, how about we go with Eric Stolhanske next time? Why not?
“Quasi” is Quasimodo from the story “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The movie is set in Medieval France. Mr. Modo, played by Steve Lemme (who holds his mouth to the side throughout the film, which must have become uncomfortable at some point), is the town’s bell ringer. In a joke later, it’s mentioned that since this is the case, he always knows the time.
He’s also friends with his hut-mate Duchamp (Heffernan). They both work torturing people for extra spending cash. The fact that they live together but are or are not friends is a running gag but makes no sense. It isn’t necessary to the script and isn’t amusing to the audience, who clearly see they’re pals, so why is this used at all, let alone several times? It could be that Quasi is well-known for creating the hottest thing in torture, the Rack. So, maybe Duchamp is jealous?
Stolhanske, not given enough time in the film, plays Quasi’s favorite test subject. I wonder how short he was when the Rack was first created. One gag about his height works very well. More of this, please!
On their way to the chambers to injure folks, Quasi and Duchamp notice it’s “Pope Week,” meaning the Pope (Soter) is coming to town. There is a lottery where one can win a chance to meet the Pope and make a confession. Quasi is given a ticket by his friend/not-friend, Duchamp, and wins! What’s so wonderful for Quasi is that he gets to meet not only the Pope but also the King (Chandrasekhar) and Queen (Adrianne Palicki).
The Pope and the king went to school together and despise one another and what they now do for a living. The Pope doesn’t want to be around a bunch of French “mouth breathers.” The king hates the rules that keep him from having ultimate control. The new queen is a beautiful young woman who recently came to the throne because the king had a “workaround” that whole “kings can’t divorce and then remarry” thing. He creates the perfect loophole. He had the last queen killed.
His new queen notices something she likes about Quasi and befriends him. Quasi loves her attention, but the meetings with the king and the Pope are quite different. They have both asked him to off the other. Oh, what’s a hunchback to do? Oh, what’s a Broken Lizard fan to do when you find what was in the trailers may have been the film’s best parts.
I jest, but acting in several roles instead of concentrating and focusing on one specific character can put a strain on any performer. If the entirety of the significant parts goes to the men writing, acting and making paramount choices, essential details can be pushed aside or overlooked. It is vital that the actors establish who they are so the audience has a chance to know them and feel for them.
Having characters using swear words and squirting blood in people’s faces will only get you so far and what big jokes there were, didn’t come frequently enough. There are some worthwhile sight gags, but they should have left some of the outtakes in. They would have improved the film! I speak of one where a horse is going to the bathroom in the background of a shot.
See? We have grown accustomed to and love the crazy jokes these men have continually given us. They all have so much talent, I’m a little disappointed this wasn’t better. You can’t change what works best and that is… Jay Chandrasekhar in the driver’s seat.
In the end, they tease of a sequel to “Quasi,” but I am looking VERY forward to “Super Troopers 3” and “Pot Fest!!”
Directed by: Kevin Heffernan
Written by: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske
Starring: Steve Lemme, Adrianne Palicki, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske
Rated: R (Crude and Sexual Content|Violence|Language)
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Producers: John Cheng, Richard Perello, Russell Simmons, Jake Stein
Streaming on Hulu TODAY!