Released: 12th June
Seen: 2nd September
Trigger Warning: there is talk about pedophillia and general child abuse in this review… because that stuff is in the movie, so there is both a warning for this review and the movie itself. Fun.
From an audience’s perspective, there is nothing quite as painful as an unfunny comedy. A bad horror movie can be amusing in its own special way, a bad drama is often just accidentally hilarious but a bad comedy is the essence of death. With a bad comedy, the jokes don’t work so there’s no reason to laugh and since that’s the main thing that these movies go for, there’s nothing of value left. A comedy can fail in many ways, a joke just not landing or being too tasteless to be funny or even just by being so poorly edited that any potential comedic timing is rendered moot… anyway, here’s a review of another bad comedy that had potential that got wasted.
Drunk Parents follows the Teagarten’s, Frank (Alec Baldwin) and Nancy (Salma Hayek) who have just dropped their daughter off at college, before coming home to find their car being repossessed. Turns out that they’ve hit a rough patch and been just barely surviving so with their daughter out of the house, they can focus on trying to make some money to pay their bills and on the way they’ll end up being technically homeless (somehow), kidnapped by vigilantes and arguing with bums… all while occasionally drinking alcohol so that they can technically be ‘drunk parents’ even though none of their problems actually relate to drinking but are really the result of bad writing.
I don’t think it would be unfair to say that the writer/director of this movie, Fred Wolf, is deeply untalented. He’s already shown his failure with such prestigious films as the two Grown Ups movies that he has no talent as a writer but this film is almost scientifically designed to be the worst of everything. The jokes range from unfunny and poorly thought out, to assuming that people are going to laugh at repeated paedophile jokes. We’re not only talking having an entire major character be a convicted sex offender whose entire joke is “Acts like a rapist” but there are several scenes where Frank is put in positions where it looks like he touches children. It’s not even that this topic is impossible to joke about, I believe that you can joke about pretty much anything if you do it well. This film doesn’t even try to do darker jokes well because it doesn’t try to do anything well.
The plot for the movie is completely incomprehensible, to the point where I gave up even trying to understand what was going on. They keep trying to suggest that our main characters are homeless, which is news to me because they have a home they can go to any time. They’re incredibly poor, but their home is never repossessed which would actually be a good way to open this movie, but there I go thinking like a someone who understands basic storytelling. They have this big yard sale plot that goes throughout the movie but they never sell anything, they just keep it all outside on the front lawn for some reason. The choices made to advance the story are baffling to the point where I wondered if it was even a film script to begin with, this feels more like a series of scenes were cut out of other movies, lazily cobbled together to create a feature-length ‘movie’.
The jokes in this movie are just bad, and SO many of them are rape and paedophile jokes that it’s kind of disgusting. My personal favourite is the scene where the Teagarten’s have to ask their relatives, the Donnelly family, if they can stay there. The father of the house, Bob (Joe Manganiello) says yes and lets them sleep in the kid’s room. After some delightfully unfunny jokes about sex, masturbation and teaching a child how to say the N-word (oh how I wish I was making that up), we get the grand image of one of the children putting on Nancy’s spanks and climbing into the bed with Frank and Nancy, pretending to sob and framing them for molesting him for literally no reason… this will then NEVER be brought up again, even in later scenes where Bob actively comes to rescue Frank and Nancy. It’s a tacky tasteless paedophile ‘joke’ that doesn’t have a punch line or a purpose. The joke is literally “ha-ha, he kind of looks like he fucks kids now” and the fact that everyone just let that joke happen is amazing. I mean, I understand that the talentless hack in charge probably thought it was funny but there were 3 adults on set that day with actual careers worth protecting, no one thought to go “Hey, this is deeply unfunny and pointless so how about we don’t?”
I do genuinely want to know exactly how much each actor got paid to take part in this because there is no way any of these actors are so desperate for work that they’d take this for scale. How did they get this cast? Alec Baldwin is at the point in his career where he doesn’t have to do a film unless he actively wants to. Same with Salma Hayek, she is way too good to do basic unfunny garbage like this and can be a lot more selective which projects to do. Seriously, was this film just secretly paying everyone so much money that they were willing to ignore every bad unfunny rape joke in this film? I thought these actors had standards, where did those go?
Even if we somehow ignore the painfully bad script and the acting that is just so desperate in its attempt to make something happen, the technical filmmaking itself is a mess. Awful, unimaginative framing, bland style choices, barely adequate editing and a sound mix that can best be described as “shittacular”. The backing music sounds like it was taken from a free music website and slammed in without even bothering to mix it properly so songs just start randomly and overpower the dialogue. The end of the film has a voiceover that is clearly trying to justify the title and make it seem like it was something important. So, they tacked on his narration that is absolutely abysmal and the more it goes on, the less you can hear because of the loud background music just swallowing it.
Maybe with a better writer, this idea could work… in fact, I know for a fact it could work because “Rich couple loses all their money and tries to get it back by a series of assorted schemes and plans” is literally the plot of Schitt’s Creek. This film is no Schitt’s Creek, it’s just shit. A pointedly unfunny mess led by great actors who were given pure garbage to work with by a writer who has somehow failed upwards into a career that now spans 30 years. Every joke fails, every scene sucks, every plot is forgettable and nothing about it works. You would have a much better time if you got just got drunk with your actual parents because at least then you might laugh at some point during the proceedings.