Wheels here with a look at the latest offering from Netflix,
The scene is a hotel room with three housekeepers who seem more interested in goofing off than cleaning, the leader of the group, Darren (played by Anders Holm), lays on the unmade bed smoking out, the dimwitted Alex (played by Adam Devine) talks about terrible 'get rich quick schemes', and the quiet Joel (played by Blake Anderson) is ignored by both..
This is how we are introduced to the three leads of GAME OVER, MAN, the newest Netflix original-branded film. If it seems similar to the Comedy Central mainstay WORKAHOLICS, that's because it is very familiar ground for the troupe known as MAIL ORDER COMEDY (Holm [who is also responsible for the screenplay], Devine, Anderson, and the film's director Kyle Newacheck).
The film revolves around the concept of a hostage situation at a high-rise hotel where a vapid Middle Eastern prince, named "Bae" is currently throwing a gala. The terrorists led by the always reliable Neal McDonough (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) and Rhona Mitra (DOOMSDAY) quickly seize the hotel and secure all of the hostages with explosive collars. The only people who escaped capture are our three bumbling, stoner housekeepers. The trio eventually decide that since they can't get help, (they are locked inside and their cell phones were given up to their manager, a sleazy Daniel Stern [City Slickers], to protect the privacy of the party, they have to be the ones to save the hostages and get a check from Bae to help fund a ridiculous invention that they are sure will make them rich.
If you think about it, this seems like it should be an easy win for Netflix. A stoner-based comedic reimagining of the original DIE HARD is a solid 'elevator pitch' with the right talent involved and Netflix surely thought the guys of MAIL ORDER COMEDY were the right talent. The project where they made their names, WORKAHOLICS, was a very popular show for Comedy Central and it definitely has its fans. I would count myself among them. I greatly enjoyed the show and admittedly I've seen every episode. I also love 80's action movies especially the original DIE HARD.
So if this idea was a fairly safe bet how did it all go so wrong?
For starters, the comedy is deeply mean-spirited. Nearly every joke in the film is based on insults, anger, or graphic bodily injury. This film revels in its violence. There are numerous celebrity cameos that seem to be present just so that celebrity can be graphically murdered by the terrorists in scenes not played for laughs. It's an odd decision to make in a film that is meant to elicit laughter. There are bits of violence and graphic nudity (sometimes in the same scene) that stunned me. The deaths in the film would seem surprisingly violent for an action film, in a comedy, it's just awkward and cringe-inducing.
The nudity I mentioned is another strange element where the film tries to mine laughs. Penises, bodily fluids, and homosexuality are all things that are integral to the comedy in GAME OVER, MAN. It feels very dated and irritatingly juvenile in 2018. It's clear that Netflix was very hands-off with the production of this and the guys gave in to their worst comedic impulses. Sometimes, restraint can breed creativity. Here the lack of restraint led to lazy, uninspired, and cheap attempts at humor. Think jokes about necrophilic beastiality are funny? Violent castration?
If so, this movie is probably for you. For me, though? I just kept feeling more and more disappointed as the film went on.
There are some bright spots. The three leads have great chemistry and there were two bits, one involving an elevator and the other a Mexican standoff, that would not have felt out of place in the better episodes of WORKAHOLICS and made me laugh hard. Steve Howe (Showtime's SHAMELESS) also is a standout as one of the terrorist henchmen who has a surprising amount of nuance and depth for the type of film he's in. It's an excellent performance and if anyone deserves to be elevated by this film, it's Howe. Also, Kyle Newacheck's directing is appropriately "cinematic". He uses the 2:35.1 aspect ratio well, and ensures that the wider landscape is not wasted. He doesn't show much unique directorial style but he does an excellent job of mimicking the look of big-budget action films, which is what the project called for. I definitely want to see more from him on a larger scale like this film.
I'm not sure at all who the target audience is for GAME OVER, MAN, though. It's too unpleasantly violent for comedy fans and too silly for hardcore action/gore fans. What we are left with is a film that will likely alienate any of their fans who check this out in hopes of an extension of WORKAHOLICS ... or who want to see them tread new ground.
It is sadly unsatisfying on both fronts.
GAME OVER, MAN is currently streaming on Netflix.