cast: David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Nikki Cox, Jill Talley, and R. Lee Ermey
producer and director: Troy Miller
87 minutes (18) 2002
EV VHS rental or retail
Also available to rent or buy on DVD
reviewed by Rob Marshall
This lowbrow comedy sat on the New Line shelves for over two years, before finally being released straight to video and DVD. It stars David Cross and Bob Odenkirk from the HBO TV series The Mr Show (1995-8). Cross plays Ronnie Dobbs (a character from a Mr Show sketch), a drunken small town slacker who frequently gets arrested for public nuisance offences. Supposedly gay British nerd Terry Twillstein (Odenkirk) talent spots Ronnie’s potential for household-name popularity when a TV crew following local cops catches Ronnie’s latest criminal misdeeds on camera. Terry convinces Ronnie that Hollywood awaits his witless presence, and soon their bogus version of reality TV, with hapless Ronnie getting arrested for tomfoolery in every US state, is the talk of tinsel town.
Tammy: “Well how am I gonna get a babysitter?”
Ronnie: “Ain’t you got a TV?”
Ronnie: “Well alright then. See ya tonight.”
However, Ronnie is dissatisfied by the grand lifestyle of fabulous luxury with his freeloader pals Clay (David Koechner), Kyle (Suli McCullough), and Tonya (Becky Thyre), and his purely sexual relationship with dream girl Kayla (dancer turned TV actress Nikki Cox). And Terry’s mismanaged efforts to exploit the Ronnie D media phenomenon (rehearsals for an operatic stage production are perversely amusing) result in fatal overexposure, and the fall guy’s imminent fall from grace. What feckless Ronnie really wants is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart and ex-wife Tammy (Jill Talley). Can Terry find a new way to keep the reformed Ronnie in the celebrity spotlight? Meanwhile, the TV enemies that Ronnie never knew he had are closing in…
Of particular note is R. Lee Ermey as the leader of a gang of island castaways from a failed game show where the contestants turned cannibal. The gang want revenge because Ronnie’s TV show trumped them in the ratings. There’s also a bawdy Mary Poppins parody with Jack Black as a singing-dancing chimneysweep (nothing to do with this film’s storyline but it plugs an interlude gap), and a witty but controversial narrative aside that concerns Ronnie’s primetime ‘outing’ of the sinister international gay conspiracy. The possibilities for guest star walk-ons and one-liners are certainly not neglected here. The likes of Garry Shandling, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Mandy Patinkin, Kathy Griffin, Trey Parker, and Ben Stiller all appear as themselves, yet the funniest cameo is by Jeff Goldblum.
RELIGIOUS CULT MEETING [of pay-per-prayer variety] –
Cult Leader: “What does Jeff Goldblum want?”
Jeff Goldblum: “I want my money back. And I want angels to give it to me. And pixies to count it out, and a gnome or a hobbit or an elf to sleep at the foot of my bed, and have – I just want them all over my backyard. But no matter what happens with any of that, I do want my money back.”
Overall, this is good for a couple of weak laughs, though the filmmakers’ constant attempts to be offensive insults even the average viewers’ intelligence at times, as Ronnie’s numerous bad taste jokes are often laboured beyond their cheap-shot punchlines. Fake outtakes that play during the end credits offer a wicked satire of behind-the-scenes stunt action injuries from Jackie Chan movies.