The following transcription is taken from a conversation that took place in my friend Cameron’s van last night, after driving back from the screening of “Envy.”
Cameron: What a waste. I thought any movie with Jack Black and Ben Stiller just had to be hilarious!
Eric: The first scene in the movie, where they were driving to work, was really funny. It seemed like they were just being themselves. But as soon as the story forced its way on them, it was way harder for either one to get laughs.
C: It’s like, the movie never connected, you know?
E: Yeah. For comedy to be funny, you have to establish the characters a little, at least. To make them somewhat believable, so the humor can come out of the situations that come later. But they spent no time setting it up, and very few laughs ever came from the actual story.
C: It was like “Starsky and Hutch.” The movie wasn’t that good…
E: But watching Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson do their schtick together was. Even if the set-up, the hook of the scene, was shitty, they could still make something out of it. When Jack Black and Stiller just did their thing in this movie, it was always funnier than anything else going on around them. When the story was supposed to get funny, it didn’t. (pause) I feel sick from all that popcorn, but still kinda hungry.
C: And what the hell was up with Christopher Walken? He’s a good host of “Saturday Night Live” and all, but that show hasn’t been funny in a long time.
E: Well, we’re supposed to laugh ‘cause he’s always playing the tough guy or the violent weirdo, but that joke can only go so far. Besides, hasn’t he already been “cleverly” cast like this? Wasn’t he in an Adam Sandler movie or something?
C: “Joe Dirt.” That David Spade movie. And “Wayne’s World.”
E: David Spade? Ugh. Did you see “Dickie Roberts:Former Child Star”? One of the worst movies of last year. You know the only reason Spade and Rob Schneider get movies made? Because Sandler pays for them. He produces all their movies. Must be nice.
C: What about the end of “Envy”? It was totally anti-climactic. All this obvious stuff with the Va-poo-rizer and “Where do the turds go?” and then, what do we get? That?
E: And there was that awful theme song with that lame know-it-all Leon Redbone sound-alike that kept popping up like Jonathan Richman in “There’s Something About Mary.” You know, illustrating the story as it’s going along? It got really annoying really quick. And he was ‘scatting,’ for chris-sakes! Scatting. A lot.
My cell phone rings. It’s another friend, JoJo.
JoJo: Hey buddy. We rented some movies tonight. Wanna come over?
E: I dunno. We just got out of one. What did you rent?
J: “Cabin Fever” and “Dickie Roberts, “ buddy. Seen them?
E: Are you serious? Why do you rent that crap? That’s three hours of your life you’re gonna want back. “Cabin Fever” is never scary. Never. Not once. And then it tries to be funny. And it’s not! Neither is “Dickie Roberts,” man. That movie has a good premise and then proceeds to fuck it all up for ninety minutes!
J: Oh well. What are you gonna do?
E: Go to the store and tell them you’re sorry you got the wrong movies- that you obviously haven’t had time to watch them, and you want to exchange them for other ones. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did, man.
E: Alright! Have a good time.
J: Late. (hangs up)
E: Why does he do that to himself? Arrghh. Those movies suck, they really do. They actually make me angry. I’m all fired up now. (pause) You know what, though? That’s a little bit of perspective. At least the movie we saw tonight somewhat entertained us. It didn’t really work, but Stiller and JB made us laugh. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it was nowhere near as bad as what JoJo’s about to see.
C: Or “My Boss’ Daughter,” which he rented last week. Oh God.
E: Yeah, I heard that was completely unwatchable. “Envy,” on the other hand, at least has Ben Stiller and Jack Black…No “Zoolander” or “School of Rock,” but kind of watchable, I guess.
C: Yeah. Are you hungry? Let’s hit the Bell drive-thru.