One of the darlings of Fantastic Fest, and others like it, this sci-fi buddy comedy – about four morons being Earth’s only hope against pending galactic doom (would you expect any less from a genre film?) – is everything you could want in a midnight movie. As such, it joins a long line of preposterous romps, namely Idiocracy, Hobo With A Shotgun, Machete Kills, and Turbo Kid, and all the zaniness they can deliver.
Lazer Team is a modern yarn, but the premise has a decidedly throwback vibe which will make any fan of the ’80s happy – especially the absurdly over-the-top elements. It’s highly irreverent, and tries to channel a Nation Lampoon level of humor, but sadly, the results resemble half-baked Broken Lizard-styled content. We’ve written plenty of times that certain films don’t fare that well outside the festival circuit, especially those narratives with such niche market leanings. So, points for trying, but the film’s ambition and execution don’t come close to meeting even halfway.
It’s tough to call this an outright spoof, as Laser Team doesn’t really pick one film in particular to send up. In Rooster Team‘s attempt to be wacky, and make a joke out of everything, this well-meaning but poorly executed comedy misses the mark repeatedly. Some big laughs, but they don’t land that often. It definitely takes all efforts possible to jettison both self-respect, and seriousness in the name of comedy. That may be one reason why this feels like a vehicle primed for Larry the Cable Guy, or any assortment of working class comedians.
Now, not to poke holes in what is obviously a handmade film – the superficial cheapness, or better, economy, is apparent from the first frame – but while something like Casa de mi Padre, Black Dynamite, even Chronicle (thematic differences not withstanding) can use the “budget” to its favor, Lazer Team‘s cheapness is supposed to be the charm of this blue collar film. You can’t fault them for the lack of resources, but many others have succeeded with less, and that’s because the writing/acting/story outshines the production value.
However, if there’s something to be said about the setup beyond the sci-fi farce, it’s that the more satisfying element is how the characters resolve their individual problems and work together as teammates and friends. It’s no Avengers, but it has the potential to win you over. Still, it’s kind of like giving your dog a toy ball, and then expecting him to juggle in 90 minutes. Some things aren’t possible, so take this ridiculous yarn at face value.
The film, in a meta way, embodies The Little Engine That Could. Fueled by a staggering number of Internet supporters, this sci-fi romp is a mixed bag about hometown heroes fighting battles that are completely over their head. They’re in an unwinnable situation, but the town (and all those backers helping make this the most successful Indiegogo campaign of all time) are pulling for them. Fun fact: If the catchy end credit song sounds like the Barenaked Ladies, that’s because it is – they recorded a song specifically for the film.
Lazer Team is a far-fetched goofball project, and the people who made it obviously care about the film. While the concept is set for good execution, the outlet might be the problem. Had this been a series of web shorts (Rooster Teeth’s forte), or something a little less long in the tooth (editing would have helped out a lot), this may have been more accessible. On the festival circuit, cinemas are usually overflowing with libations, so, as stated atop this review, find yourself a six-pack and enjoy. Beverages are not just encouraged. They are required. Go Lazer Team!