OCTOBER 25, 2009
You know what Airplane, Naked Gun, and Hot Shots all have in common, besides being awesome? They’re all PG or PG-13, which means that the 12 year olds who find flatulence jokes funny are actually in the crowd. But Stan Helsing is rated R, so I can’t for the life of me understand why the movie not only has such lowbrow humor, but positively revels in it, as opposed to making jokes about actual horror movies.
I’m not really picky when it comes to comedy - I am amused by Caddyshack II, I found Joey to be a pretty fun show, and I’ve even liked most of the Scary Movie films. And even though I don't smoke pot, I even enjoyed "stoner" movies like Half Baked and Harold & Kumar. However, the most entertainment I got out of Stan Helsing was my own bewilderment at how unfunny it was. I legit only laughed THREE times during the entire fucking movie (and its extras), and only one of which had anything to do with horror movies (a reasonably cute sight gag involving people returning The Ring at a video store).
And I hate the movie more for wasting a theoretically good concept. Having a sage-like teacher instruct a young, slacker descendent of Van Helsing in order to fight modern monsters (Jason, Freddy, etc) would be a pretty great comedy, I think. It could be structured like the (not as bad as anyone thinks it is) Buffy theatrical film, and every ten minutes or so Stan could fight another movie badass, with the final villain being some surprise has-been (Horace Pinker? Dr. Giggles?) who had been pulling the strings.
But no! Stan Helsing instead follows four unfunny and uninteresting folks (including Stan) as they go on a Macguffin quest to drop off some videos at Stan’s boss’ house and get lost in a town populated with the aforementioned monsters. Well, “hilarious” parodies of them. So Michael Myers is Jewish for some reason, and Jason wears a hockey jersey, and Leatherface has purse handles on his mask... all stupid shit like that. But Stan never really lives up to his namesake either; the entire movie just has him and his pals briefly encounter one of them, make a bad joke, and then run away. Then there’s a cut and they are walking again, apparently no longer in any danger. The entire movie plays out like this, until they eventually have a karaoke contest to see who can escape. Even for a spoof film, there is no discernible plot or character arcs to invest yourself in (even Airplane II had these things), and the fact that none of it is ever even grin-worthy funny makes these issues all the more apparent.
It’s also strangely lacking any legit spoof scenes. They keep playing up the ties to Scary Movie (writer/director Bo Zenga was one of the original writers on SM), but other than the concept itself, nothing plays out like a traditional spoof. Granted, this material has already been largely covered by the Scary Movies, but with the sequels and remakes (and the fact that the Scary Movie franchise has been dormant for over 3 years) there’s still plenty of ground to cover. But in fact, the monsters are hardly in the movie at all anyway; they only make up maybe 15 minutes of the 90 minute film. The rest of the time we are just watching our four leads carry out the same bad jokes and character stereotype behavior: the slutty girl says something dumb or slutty, Kenan Thompson thinks they should leave and/or run, Stan wants to chill out, and Diora Baird (the only one who escapes with some dignity) essentially reminds everyone else how stupid they are. Over and over and over and over...
The Blu-Ray comes packed with equally worthless shit. The commentary track (by Zenga, Thompson, and the girl who plays the slut) was apparently recorded with the movie muted, so half of it is the actors saying their own lines as if this was an impromptu ADR session, and the other half is the three of them giggling at what they must assume is a funny line or gag. Then there are some outtakes and deleted (mostly extended) scenes that are just as terrible. The making of is probably the best of the lot, since it’s just everyone insulting each other. It’s not funny either, but it beats them saying how great each other is.
In the end, the most telling thing about the entire production is something Zenga says on the commentary track. Over a scene that introduces a minor character, he claims that the actor wasn’t told that the film was a comedy. And my first thought was “So this WAS a comedy?”, followed by “Did you tell yourself that too?”, and then finally “Hey, this will be my first ‘crap’ entry in a long time!”. And not to toot my own horn, but any one of those responses is infinitely funnier than the best joke in this film.
Oh, and for the record, this movie, which probably cost a couple million, was released theatrically on about 30 screens, where it pulled in about two grand, or 73 dollars per screen, which by my math means that there were more showings of the film per theater over the 3 day period than there were customers paying to attend them. The number 1 movie was the 11,000 dollar Paranormal Activity, which Anchor Bay (who distributed Stan) passed on over a year ago. Good call, fellas!
What say you?