With a “Cats” here and a “Sonic the Hedgehog” there, Hollywood has been putting its tendency to make films based on anything and everything, regardless of whether or not the source material naturally lends itself to cinema, into full force these past couple of months.
But the concept to bring “Impractical Jokers” to the big screen is particularly baffling.
Each episode of the reality show, which follows four lifelong friends as they put each other into embarrassing situations, has the structure, tone and quality of a Vine compilation. And sure, Vine compilations are funny, but would you really pay to sit through 93 minutes of them? On second thought, don’t answer that.
Either way, maybe “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” would have been a passible, albeit expensive, diversion if it was simply an extra-long episode of the show.
But director Chris Henchy (co-writer of “The Other Guys”) and his team make one fatal mistake: they try to add a plot.
That plot involves the jokers, Brian “Q” Quinn, Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto and James “Murr” Murray, trying to make up for a high school prank that went awry at a Paula Abdul concert.
Abdul gives them the chance by inviting them to her party, but she only gives them three tickets. This launches the men into the competitive fool-making we’re used to on the show.
And that leads us to our first problem.
The loser of the game isn’t forced to participate in the most embarrassing encounter of the day, like on the show. He just doesn’t get to go to a lame-ass party.
Thus, the filmmakers manage to make the stakes lower. I didn’t think that was possible.
On top of that, the inclusion of this sort-of story forces us to sit through overly long, scripted scenes of the jokers traveling on the road between pranks. The quartet shows off their acting chops, of which they have none.
And when we do finally get to the pranks, they feel like major downgrades from the real-life situations on the show.
The set-ups are promising: the guys have to do everything from convince boat passengers not to let stranded individuals on board to act fanatical at a Jaden Smith Q and A. Unfortunately, more outsiders. like business personnel and Smith himself, are in on the joke than usual, meaning we get fewer of the raw reactions that make the show funny.
I don’t think I’m asking too much. I knew I wasn’t going to get intelligent writing, masterful directing, artistic cinematography or a sweeping score from “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.”
But I still thought I’d laugh, or at least chuckle. Alas, I guess I was the real loser of this week’s episode.