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edge staff writer


‘Impractical Jokers: The Movie’ lacking in laughs

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I spend a lot of time at the movies. I see quite a few good ones and plenty of bad ones, but it’s relatively rare for me to see an utterly inexplicable one, a movie that begs the question “Why does this exist?”

“Impractical Jokers: The Movie” had me asking myself that very question.

Full disclosure: I have only the most passing of passing familiarity with the television show that inspired the film, a series built entirely around four meatheads from Staten Island making each other behave like morons in front of an unsuspecting public (and a bunch of hidden cameras). You might think that such source material would prove insufficient fodder for a feature film.

And you would be correct.

“Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a poorly-constructed excuse to string together a handful of the group’s hidden camera pranks. The story – such as it is – exists solely to get us from bit to bit. The narrative makes no sense and the central quartet are completely out of their depth any time they’re expected to act; they’re painful to watch, frankly. Even the pranks, the whole raison d’etre for this waste of time, feel perfunctory.

The “plot” is as follows: we go back to 1992, where the four friends – Brian Quinn (who goes by Q), Joe Gatto, Sal Vulcano and James Murray (who goes by Murr) – are in high school. They’re getting ready to go to a Paula Abdul concert. They don’t have tickets, but they have a plan to bluff their way inside – a plan that is inexplicably successful.

Of course, it all goes awry. Ultimately, the guys wind up ruining the concert. Sal goes onstage in an effort to be a hype man and fails; Joe winds up getting clotheslined by Paula Abdul. Eventually, Q pulls a fire alarm and they run for it.

Flash forward to the present day. The guys are eating at Red Lobster when they spot Abdul, who makes them. Immediately fearful that she remembers the events of that night, they panic. But it turns out that she’s a fan of the show and wants to invite them to some party in Miami. They agree, only it turns out that there are only three passes, so the foursome opts to drive there, performing their usual nonsense along the way to determine who gets left out.

And … that’s it. That’s the movie. Seriously.

The pranks are fine for what they are. There’s a bit that involves one of them playing a mall Santa in July. They have a thing where they pretend to have car trouble and then mess with anyone who stops to try and help them. Each of them takes a turn carrying around an urn and asking passersby to listen to horribly inappropriate eulogies. There’s a weird Bat Boy cave deal. All in all, there are funny moments, but none of them are nearly as hilarious as the guys themselves seem to find them.

(The best of the bunch is probably when one of them manages to get on stage at a social media convention to give a presentation in which he hasn’t seen the slides or videos, only to discover some … let’s just say unsettling homemade films featuring his parents.)

Again, it cannot be stressed enough how bad at acting these dudes are. Sure, there’s a lo-fi charm to their pranks; it’s tough to deny the joy each of them takes in giving the others a hard time. That rough-and-ready ribbing is fine. But the second any of them is asked to try and advance the “plot” of the film, it all crumbles. They are wooden and flat, completely devoid of any charm that they might carry through the hidden camera bits.

I’ll concede that this movie is probably going to be more effective for the viewer who is familiar with the series. However, even with that concession, the reality is that there’s not really anything here. The same effect could have been achieved by sitting on your couch and binging a handful of episodes. There’s no need for this movie. There’s no point, either to the “story” being told or to the movie’s existence.

As for the presence of Paula Abdul … I don’t know what to tell you. There’s something so inexplicable and surreal about the whole thing. It reads as the sort of thing that someone said off the cuff – “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Paula Abdul was in this?” – only to be taken seriously.

There have been plenty of television shows that have been successfully translated to the big screen. “Impractical Jokers” is not one of them. The goofball pranks, while entertaining in their way, are not nearly enough to make up for the plotless meandering and the terrible performances.

If you pay money to go to a theater and see “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” then guess what? The joke’s on you.

[0.5 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 March 2020 07:41


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