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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

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"InAPPropriate Comedy" doesn't look good, but it's even worse than you could imagine.
"InAPPropriate Comedy" doesn't look good, but it's even worse than you could imagine.

Film critic confessions: I walked out of "InAPPropriate Comedy"

This past weekend, I did something that I’ve never done before. It wasn’t professional. I’m not proud of it. But simply put, it was something I felt I had to.

I walked out of a movie.

I’ve certainly wanted to walk out of movies before. Just this last year, I uncomfortably squirmed in my seat during Clint Eastwood’s cloying groan-a-thon "Trouble with the Curve," the worst thing to happen to baseball since the invention of steroids.

I even choked down both "Human Centipede" films without even taking a break for a trip to the bathroom or a church confessional (though I certainly wanted to go there afterwards).

But I stuck it out. I’ve always stuck it out. But this past Sunday, I went to a showing of "InAPPropriate Comedy," a sketch comedy film starring Rob Schneider, Lindsay Lohan and Oscar-winner – and Gillette Master of Style – Adrien Brody. And, as you might expect from the title of this article and the last four paragraphs, with approximately 30 minutes left, I walked out.

It was somewhere during a (clearly fake) hidden camera skit in which a loud, aggressive black man enters an abortion clinic and berates a horrified young couple into letting him use a wire hanger to get the job done faster that I determined that I had seen enough.

It wasn’t without some internal resistance. My usual first thought when I’m tempted to bail on a movie is that it could get better. Several movies have miserable openings but improve as they go along. The first ten minutes of Baz Luhrmann’s "Romeo + Juliet," for instance, are borderline intolerable, but after a while Luhrmann lays off the editing tricks, and the movie becomes pretty decent.

"InAPPropriate Comedy," however, wasn’t showing any signs of improvement. After a reference to Aron Ralston and a skit involving looking up Lindsay Lohan’s skirt, the film, directed by Vince Offer – better known as the ShamWow and Slap Chop guy –settles into a rotation of three or four humorless central skit ideas that made me feel bad for all the mean things I said about "Movie 43" a few months ago.

The best idea (and I’m using the word "best" very, very loosely) involves Brody in a spoof of "Dirty Harry" called – wait for it – "Flirty Harry," in which he wears capri pants and talks entirely in double entendres. That’s it; there is no other joke, though it does score points for not being aggressively offensive and mean. It’s just aggressively unfunny.

The same, I guess, could be said of a series of skits involving Rob Schneider and Michelle Rodriguez as porn critics watching awful fake porn videos while a man masturbates behind them into a popcorn tub. The two trade joke-free banter that sounds like they weren’t even in the same room with one another, and the fake porn videos – one based on "Black Swan" (timely!) and the other an Asian film dubbed in English, which unfortunately means audiences have to hear the worst Chris Brown-Rihanna joke imaginable.

Then there are the two worst offenders: a parody of "Jackass" called "Blackass" and a series of hidden camera stunts called "The Amazing Racist," in which comedian Ari Shaffir ridicules people for their race in obviously scripted scenarios. In one skit, Shaffir teaches in-car drivers education classes to Asian people while mocking them for their eyes. Later, he dresses as a priest and walks around a Jewish market asking patrons to sign a petition apologizing for killing Jesus Christ. He tries to tempt them with coupons for nose reduction surgery.

The former is merely loud, abrasive and racist (until it reaches the abortion skit). The latter is the real offender, merely parading unfunny, ugly racial stereotypes into people’s faces in the hopes of scoring a funny reaction. This isn’t like "Borat," where the comedy got bite from exposing other’s racism or sexism (also, "Borat" had jokes). This was just being mean and cruel to people in the hopes the audience is just as mean and cruel.

It’s not even well made, as the amount of camera coverage Offer gets would be pretty much impossible for a found footage stunt. Plus, I can’t imagine a normal human being able to stand the filmmaker’s racist, sexist and bigoted attempts at humor without some sort of monetary reward.

The film simply flips through these terrible laugh-free skits, with only one deviation – a skit featuring Rob Schneider as a therapist who chokes on an apple because his patient is graphically talking about sex. There is no joke to the skit. It is just a waste of ten minutes and bizarre proof that there is somebody on Earth who thinks that the best cure for a bad movie is more Rob Schneider.

So there wasn’t much hope for improvement, but even in that case, I usually have enough respect for the filmmakers to stick it out. Movies don’t make themselves after all; it takes a whole lot of people and effort to make something you hope will entertain or enlighten.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same respect from the creators of "InAPPropriate Comedy." They don’t appear to have respect for their viewers, especially if they’re anything other than a white, heterosexual male. I understand that the film is sold as inappropriate comedy, but it’s certainly not comedic, and it’s more mean-spirited and lazy than inappropriate.

When worse comes to worst, there’s always my sense of professional critic obligation. It’s an unwritten part of critic code that a critic shouldn’t leave a show early, but you know what I say about that in the case of "InAPPropriate Comedy?" Too bad. Many people assume critics watch movies without any emotional involvement, as though a movie simply toggles a set of switches in a critic’s mind. That shot was good; that performance was bad. Bleep, bloop.

Contrary to that opinion, critics watch movies just like anyone else. We want to be entertained, moved or just escape the real world for two hours. And if something is ungodly terrible, we want to leave and ask for our money back just like you would. Since I technically walked out of "InAPPropriate Comedy," I might not be able to provide a critically adequate review. But as a human being who loves movies with all of his heart, I can tell you that it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen in a theater. 

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