April 21st, 2023
STARRING: STEVE LEMME, JAY CHANDRASEKHAR, KEVIN HEFFERNAN, PAUL SOTER, ERIK STOLHANSKE
DIRECTED BY: KEVIN HEFFERNAN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
The crew that makes up the writing team known as The Broken Lizard has undeniably turned out some hilarious comedies in their time. Super Troopers is still a blast on police officers using their power for ridiculous shenanigans. Beer Fest is an often underappreciated but brilliant concoction of comradery and sheer stupidity. I was even on the positive side of Super Troopers 2– albeit a sequel that arrived fifteen years too late. So it brings me no pleasure to say that their recent comedy- Quasi is undoubtedly their worst film yet. It’s not for a lack of effort or even inventiveness. We were all rooting for The Broken Lizard to deliver a load of laughs but instead, it sputters on comedy and can’t get over the hump.
The title character is Quasimodo (Steve Lemme doing his best Little Nicky impression), a hunchback who spends his days working in a torture dungeon, dreaming of eating oysters and life beyond being the village joke. His “friend/not friend” is Duchamp (Kevin Heffernan), a drinking buddy, and co-worker that humors him because they’re all they have. It’s medieval Paris and the big upcoming event is the coronation of the king of France (Jay Chandrasekhar) and the naming of a replacement for Pope Cornelius (Paul Soter). It’s during this time when luck happens for Quasi, winning a lottery for the coronation with Queen Catherine (Adrianne Palicki) but also putting him in the middle when the King and Pope order him to assassinate the other. Now Quasi needs to find a way out of it but that’s easier said than done.
From a comedy standpoint, it’s not a terrible effort from Heffernan and the crew. There is an inventive spirit to the concept, reminding me of great parodies such as Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights or the brilliance of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The sets and costumes are a bit cheesy but they look the part. It’s the writing that fails at every corner. Outside of some funny running gags, such as Michel (Erik Stolhanske) who grows taller after every trip on a torture rack, the laughter is relatively scarce. Although previous Broken Lizard movies gained more laughs with repeated viewings, that doesn’t seem to matter with Quasi, as it feels outdated and avoids comedy that has been done better in the past.
The spirit of good comedy is evidently present. Heffernan isn’t shooting for low-brow current event gags or punching down. The humor is relative to the ridiculous nature of what it was to live during a time without indoor plumbing or anything of substance. He also has each actor playing multiple characters, an approach that saves time and money, but it does challenge the comedy to be good. I just never got on the same level. Punchlines are too stupid, the pace drags forever, and Heffernan hopes you will laugh at life in general during the fourteenth century. Midway through the laughter all but stopped altogether.
It’s all just sad. Quasi is not good and nobody wants it to be bad. It’s possible that The Broken Lizard has lost the comedic fastball or just telling original comedies is difficult during a timeline of constant misery. I hope it doesn’t stop them from making Super Troopers 3. That might be the comedy we really want to see. Quasi is something else. Whatever it’s trying to do, this ain’t it. There’s no laughter this time and it would be better to be locked in a bell tower.
QUASI IS PLAYING FRIDAY, APRIL 21ST IN SELECT THEATERS AND IS AVAILABLE ON HULU.
Written by: Leo Brady