Movie: If you've read many of my reviews, you'll know that I was one of those kids raised by proxy with Mom using a television to substitute as a babysitter while she put food on the table. I know a number of my peers had a condescending attitude toward the arrangement but having watched how they turned out, I think I did just fine. While my favorite genre of television will probably always be Science Fiction; I know a lot of you enjoy Comedy and Reality Television making today's review of National Lampoon: Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (uncut) worth a couple minutes of your time. The show is the sequel to Volume 1, a release that managed to offend one of the best reviewers on DVD Talk (no small feat that since he's seen some real crud in his day) with the various antics it displayed onscreen. Both releases are advertised as being made up of unaired television reality pilots that never made the cut but in reality, they are actually just skits appealing to what amounts to the lowest common denominator of our culture. Here's a quick take on the second volume:
The box cover suggests that the DVD is full of "TV shows the networks wouldn't dare air" and I suppose that if they had ever been considered as such, the truth would reflect the networks shying away from them for a great many reasons (mostly due to nudity and swearing since poor taste is synonymous with network television and has been for decades). Those familiar with the National Lampoon magazine are probably aware that it hasn't been particularly funny since the 1970's and the various movies released under its logo tend to be very hit or miss for all but the least discerning audiences. That's not to say the movies really suck (in a bad way) but they tend to throw a million jokes at you in hopes of getting a few laughs rather than carefully construct them to have fewer, but better, jokes. The same holds true for National Lampoon: Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (uncut), a collection of short skits based on a variety of premises. Stemming from The Jay & Tony Show team, it served to present the weaknesses of reality TV with only a small slice of the comedy required for a hit release. While I'm not going to list every one of them, the following will give you an idea of what to expect.
The returning two segments were Amazing Racist and Money. In the first, an obnoxious guy (Ari Shaffir) goes around pissing off people by displaying his views of other cultures. The most notable ones here were him dressing up in a pseudo-kimono and going to a Chinese food restaurant and nails place with him later dressing up as though he were from a Latino barrio before getting slapped around. Okay, this segment had a lot of potential in this day and age of political correctness but it fell far short of the mark because even a red-necked buffoon would probably think they were just dumb. Anyone that tells me they can't come up with something truly amusing based on stereotypes is either simple in the head or just plain lying so these were a waste of time.
Next up was a set of Money episodes. In these, a low rate actor acts like a modern day Monty Hall and offers people money to do stupid things. From pumping gas without any clothes on, to licking a homeless guy clean, to letting the homeless guy spit in their face, contestants did some really nasty things. This segment fared somewhat better than the other simply because a few of the gags were truly amusing, although admittedly in a kind of lame manner.
One set up that reminded me of the infamous The Man Show was Midget Wars, a contest where midgets would perform against average sized people in sporting events; much like the old American Gladiator show. Needless to say, unless you laugh uncontrollably at small people, this one might not work for you either but there were some cute moments to be seen here.
Project Red Light was more tuned towards my tastes with some film school directors learning the ins and outs of making porn for a living. Guest starring an uncredited Herschel Savage (the guy in porn since the 1970's with the spotted penis), Kyle Stone, and lovely Monique Alexander (not properly credited though). This one would actually have plenty of potential at getting laughs considering how weak the Family Business series on Showtime is (yet gets lots of attention) so if future volumes are made, I'm sure they'd have no problems getting porn stars to participate (such performers tend to love being in what they consider "mainstream" releases).
Another segment that has more potential than the result here was Beer Goggles, a show where guys are made to get drunk and then score with women they otherwise wouldn't touch. Like the old saying, "At 2 (AM), she was a ten but at 10 (AM), she was a 2" or the concept of coyote ugly. This was much like the silly skit from the first release revolving around a transsexual passing himself off as a women to a few adoring geeks; the concept was sound but the execution was just that, an execution.
I really didn't think the DVD was all that bad and it even managed to shine at times but the biggest problem with it was quality control. Let's face it, like most comedy shows, getting laughs from a modern audience takes more than handing out free drugs. A concept that sounds good could actually work but you can't force it if the written material is further hampered by semi-professional actors that lack comic timing. In all, I thought National Lampoon: Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (uncut) was worth a rating of Rent It but you'll probably want to have a few stiff drinks in your system to truly appreciate it. I'm enough of a snob to fuss at the minor failings of the show but even I think the premise is certainly worthy of a series of DVDs if the material is right. Check this one out and I think you may find it had enough to make you smile regularly, if not laugh out loud, much like the first volume (I disagree with Bill's assessment on the first volume but can't argue with his reasoning most of the time).
Picture: National Lampoon: Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (uncut) was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color it was shot in. The colors were very accurate, the amount of grain minimal, and the limited budget look of it lent an air of reality to the show. Some of the choppy editing and camera work could've used more polish but the visual presentation was not an issue most of the time with no compression artifacts or video noise bothering me during my two screenings of the show.
Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo English. It was a very straightforward presentation with mostly clear vocals (except on some of the segments that had wind noise) and the kind of special effects typically used to provide comic effect.
Extras: There were no extras on the DVD.
Final Thoughts: National Lampoon: Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (uncut) was designed to poke fun at reality television shows and it does that in spades. Granted, some of the material was really weak and a bit more attention to detail wouldn't hurt it but trying it as a rental won't kill you. In short, National Lampoon: Lost Reality 2: More of the Worst (uncut) was politically incorrect, offensive on many levels, and something you won't want to watch with the kids but it managed to hit just enough times to make it worth a look. If you grew up with Monty Hall and Allen Funt (the latter being the originator in many ways of this style of presentation on his Candid Camera series), and would like to see modern reality television shows skewered for all the crap that they are, you could do far worse than this.