TO YOU BY:
The Last Laugh is a film that has its quality displayed prominently in the trailer, so go watch that before reading this review. I rarely suggest that, but please click it, watch it, and understand. If you chuckle, prepare for that chuckle to not reappear in the film because you’ve already seen the only humorous part, and it’s honestly not even worthy of being that.
Greg Pritikin hasn’t directed a movie since 2004, and this is his first wide spread film being distributed on Netflix. This is a great indicator of why some of these people involved went into partial retirement. The last five minutes of the film are gold. Not the most brilliant cinema but easily the greatest moments in the film. The final scene is what the film should have been building up to but instead wastes all that on a bland road trip movie where nothing exciting happens during their travels. On one of the last nights of the duo’s trip, Al uses marijuana to calm his nerves from some troubling news he just received, and in doing so he enters a hallucinogenic state where everything becomes a musical. This scene is unique, but it’s wild timing and odd themes make the viewer feel like if the film were to conclude at this very moment, then the last hour and a half would have been for absolutely nothing. Chase can’t sing, Dreyfuss doesn’t try at all, and the musical direction isn’t quite sure of what it is. Pritikin shouldn’t be allowed behind the pen or the camera, and certainly not both.
Once again, Greg Pritikin is the man to talk about; although he has a crucial segment in Movie 43, which is an extremely guilty pleasure of mine, he does have the worst segment with the smallest amount of laughs and much more cringe than all the others. His other writing efforts are all films that he, himself, directed with little to no success financially and especially critically. So this is what pains me: this writer has had terrible quality films released in the past, Netflix saw the finished script or possibly even the final product, and yet accepted it to be on their streaming service. Why? Almost nothing works in this film. Al and Buddy spend a majority of the film on the road going from venue to venue with almost no content to move them along. Buddy’s act may make a couple audience members howl, but viewers at home won’t be in on the joke. Crowd work almost always only works if you’re a part of the crowd, beyond that it’s nearly impossible to capture on film aside from one particular comedian, who won’t be mentioned here. Their effort to get from one place to the next is humorless and dry, but their mission however had potential. The premise is wonderful and has a lot of dramatic promise, but the excruciating comedy between the drama ruins the effect of what could have been. Just another wasted opportunity for Netflix and all involved down in the books.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Netflix’s newest comedy features Chevy Chase in possibly his first role on film since the Vacation reboot, excusing the small cameo in another film the next year, and his first leading role since 2000s Snow Day. Now you may wonder why there hasn’t been much Chevy Chase lately, what happened to the man we all loved in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and even NBCs COMMUNITY? Well nothing happened … as sad as it is, he’s just lost his charm. Richard Dreyfuss however does brings the charm, even an overwhelming amount to attempt to cover for the two of them, but even his extreme enthusiasm can’t save this sinking ship. It’s unfortunate because this is honestly the first film in years that Dreyfuss has appeared to care about and to have it turn out so rotten is a very sad thing indeed. The chemistry between the duo of Al (Chase) and Buddy (Dreyfuss) is extremely lacking as it feels almost one sided mainly from Dreyfuss’ side and because of this, none of the emotional cues in the film work properly. Their humor together is juvenile but acceptable in a better written script, however their interactions feel like a stale improv routine that the two haven’t gotten a laugh from since the 90s. Let’s not forget Al’s thrown in love interest Doris, played by Andie MacDowell who is really just in the scenes to cause (kind of) problems for Dreyfuss and Chase’s bond that barely exists. The only other major player, aside from Chris Parnell and Kate Micucci as the comedians worried children, is Lewis Black as a former client of Chase’s Al, who claims the best comedic scene in the film although it still hardly generates a single laugh. A good comedic team clearly, but with almost no material salvageable in the final product to realize why they were all placed together in this Netflix Original in the first place.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is obnoxiously loud, and the sound cues are prominent within to add a lacking effect to the entire experience. Once more, the musical number is unnecessary and another unfortunate circumstance of poor “creative” writing. The sound effects have a sort of hollow sense to them as if they were attached to the scenes last minute or added in the time of the scene, such as a sex scene where neither of the two main characters are having sex but the actions are heard in the other room. This scene in particular feels like an awkward add in that Dreyfuss came up with at the last minute - or just another terribly written scene. In addition to all the other faults that the film suffers from, the sound design feels adrift and never quite matches with the actions taking place on screen.
The comedy clubs feel unrealistic, the towns the two reside feel like terrible sets, and the jail cell the two wind up in looks like it belongs in a soap opera. Aside from a few awkwardly filmed real location scenes out on the city streets, everything looks incredibly fake, and that’s definitely a major flaw. Makeup is barely used, and only to represent a bruise on Al’s forehead to literally say that he’s getting older for falling down on his own, and the costume Buddy wears to trick Al when he first arrives at the retirement community he’s looking into joining, which is actually not that terrible looking considering it’s mainly a Halloween costume thrown together. Nonetheless, terrible set designs don’t help a film that is primarily all comedy club sets, and whose musical number is just horrific in its depiction.
An outstanding leading duo just couldn’t manage to create anything special with this poorly written screenplay and bland direction. What makes matters worse is the over dramatization of scenes and humor them seem “funnier” than they really are - erasing any chance of even an awkward laugh from the joke alone. If one thing is for certain, it’s that Netflix will be having The Last Laugh if you take time out of your day to watch this garbage disposal of potential.