In 10 Words or Less
The unofficial Upright Citizen's Brigade movie
Loves: Amy Poehler, Upright Citizen's Brigade
Likes: Bizarre comedy, dark comedy
Hates: Giant food costumes
Anyone who has watched the Upright Citizen's Brigade perform knows they are watching something truly different. Instead of taking everyday situations, like working in an office or hanging out with friends, and making them funny, the UCB go for more bizarre premises, like a house with a Hot Chicks room or being friends with the Unabomber. Because of that, the troupe could go much further in terms of edgy, extreme comedy.
Extreme comedy is what Martin & Orloff is all about. That's the only way it could be, when you introduce your main character by having him clean up the blood pool from his suicide attempt. Dark is not the word for a comedy with so much suicide. But comedy it definitely is. Successful comedy? Well...
Martin (Ian Roberts) tried to off himself following the not-to-be-discussed "Eggroll Incident," but now, he's been released from the mental hospital, and is back at work, where he designs costumes for corporate mascots. But he still needs help and is recommended to Dr. Orloff (Matt Walsh), who may be the worst doctor in the world. His first question of Martin is ridiculously blunt, and he follows it up by skipping out to a softball game. Of course, he drags Martin along, kicking off a road trip around New York City, which is a bit of a stimulous overload for a guy just getting back into society.
This is a bit of a screwball comedy, so everyone Orloff knows is an oddball, from co-dependant stripper Penny (Amy Poehler) to his Gulf War veteran pal Keith (Jon Benjamin, "Home Movies"). The plot that is weaved around them, loosely at best, is one of the oddest recorded to film in a long time, as it involves girl scouts, spare ribs, an exploding bridge and a giant penis. Throw in a host of cameo appearances, including David Cross, Andy Richter, Tina Fey, Janeane Garofalo and Rachel Dratch, and it should be a surefire cult hit.
Unfortunately, much of the movie relies of cliche comedy or slapstick action, especially the final act, and the cameos hardly get to be truly funny. Only Benjamin, who is playing something of a live-action take on his "Home Movies" character, Coach McGuirk, gets to cut loose and perform a UCB-worthy role. If not for the presence of the four members of the UCB, the film would feel like any other comedy group could have been behind it. Of course, when you have Amy Poehler playing a stripper (sadly, sans nudity), does your movie need anything else? I'd have said no before, but now I know the truth. It could use a bit more comedy.
On one DVD, in a standard keepcase, Anchor Bay is releasing Martin & Orloff, with a four-panel fold-out insert. The disc features an animated, anamorphic widescreen main menu, with options to view the film, select scenes, adjust the languages and check out the special features. Language options include English 2.0 and 5.1 tracks, and while there are no subtitles, the film does have closed captioning. The chapter selection menus have still previews and titles for each scene.
Martin and Orloff looks like a big-budget film in terms of the color and detail, though the movie is somewhat soft overall. There's not much grain in the transfer, and the dark scenes (of which there are many) come across clearer than one might expect from a low-budget independent production. There's nothing here that will distract from a casual viewing.
The audio, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, sounds clear, but there's nothing noticeable as far as directionality or other sound effects. The dialogue is the main feature of this mix, and it is very well done.
For the biggest extra of the disc, director Lawrence Blume joined writer/directors Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh for a feature-length audio commentary that is as silly as any you may have heard. Some filmmaking information is shared, but for the most part, the track moves between egomaniacal rants and false facts about the production, with a hint of self-deprecating wit.
Outside of the commentary, the majority of the bonus features on this DVD are in the form of deleted or miscellaneous footage. Unfortunately, most of these are short and/or pointless. Dinner Theater Bloopers might give Garofalo, Fey and Dratch more screentime than the movie itself, while a short clip of makeup tests is an unusual inclusion, as any entertainment value is a hidden factor. There's also the amusing "Astronaut Striptease," which sounds more interesting than it is.
Anyone who enjoys David Cross' Tobias character on "Arrested Development" will recognize at least part of Dan Wasserman, his possibly gay/definitely effeminate character here. A pair of deleted scenes featuring him are funny, but too short.
Also cut was the film's alternate ending, which showcases a certain castmember's secret mad skillz. It's included for a one-time thrill, just like the trailer, which gives away much of the film's comedy.
Also included is a four-page booklet with satirical chapter descriptions, which folds out to a Martin & Orloff board game with the same sense of humor as the movie.
The Bottom Line
With the minds behind the UCB putting this film together, my expectations may have been a bit high. Sadly, they weren't met by a movie that drags at times, and never hits the heights of their Comedy Central series. Instead, there are some laughs here and there, and chuckles occasionally filling the voids. The DVD looks and sounds very nice, but the laundry list of extras ends up being a pile of short, somewhat meaningless clips and the cameos don't add up to much. UCB fans will definitely want to give this a look, but ownership is another matter all together.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.