Game Over, Man! (2018)

Directed by Kyle Newachek

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The characters from Workaholics don new names and figure into a Die Hard-esque storyline, fighting havoc with chaos in Game Over, Man!  If you like the Comedy Central tv show, you might like the movie, but even avid Adam, Anders and Blake fans may grow tired with this one.

I used to love Workaholics, finding something to laugh at in just about every episode, but eventually it started to wear thin.  After a couple seasons, once the characters were more broadly developed, the show began to rely on gross out humor and vulgar gags that provided little beyond diminishing shock value.  They were the slapstick equivalents of a jump scare, cheap and admittedly occasionally effective but for the most part incredibly flat and disappointing.

Game Over, Man! is full of such sensibilities, from multiple uses of prosthetic genitalia to cheap visual effects of heads blowing up.  There is a lot of blood spatter and a lot of quips in between.  The movie is really just not that great, but I can’t say I didn’t laugh once in a while.

Adam Devine, Anders Holm and Blake Anderson play three housekeepers at a fancy Los Angeles hotel.  When a famous Instagram dude, Bae Awadi (Utkarsh Ambudkar), shows up they get to be temporary waiters, and they will use this as the time to pitch him on their “Skintendo” video game idea, which incorporates a constructed suit so you can better control your avatar.  When they claim to have already constructed a beta version of the suit, you know it will turn up in the third act.

How these three have jobs at such an ostensibly nice hotel is a mystery.  I assumed it was a result of extreme nepotism, and there is ample opportunity for a joke in there, but the only explanation we get is that their boss (Home Alone‘s Daniel Stern) is a sexist pig who lets his male employees off the hook.  This runs counter (or parallel) to his strict attitude towards a female employee (Aya Cash) which plays awkwardly into the “MeToo” movement.

Things start to go wrong when a group of bad guys show up and hold the hotel hostage.  Our three protagonists witness the castration of their sexist boss and then spend much of the first half of the movie hiding about like John McClane.  The bad guys send other bad guys to kill them, hoping to stay covert for a little longer, but once they fire their weapons and gather all the hostages on the roof, it seems unnecessary to waste manpower on the three main characters, considering there’s no risk of exposing the bad guys if they’re already exposed.  Alas, the three being our main characters, the bad guys just keep chasing after them so that we can eventually reach the midpoint when the three will start to fight back.

I keep calling them “bad guys,” because I forget who they are or what they want.  To Adam, Anders and Blake they are just bad guys, copied straight from any number of mid-90s action movies which themselves pulled from mid-80s classics.  Game Over, Man! shamelessly borrows tropes from these other movies and only occasionally comments on them.

But that’s the appeal of the movie, right?  You get to see characters you may know and love but in a very unusual circumstance, in this case fighting off terrorists.  It’s a premise that might once have been a novelty but which today seems to have been squeezed dry.  It’s basically just ‘aloof, dopey, inept, likable good guy’ + ‘fighting terrorists’ and that’s it.  It’s been done before in something like The Other Guys (paper-pushing cop), The Pineapple Express (stoners), and The World’s End (drunk people), to name a few.

One of the problems with Game Over, Man! is that the main characters aren’t very likable at all.  Again, their likability factors into your familiarity with their shortcomings, which the three characters share with their Workaholics altar egos.  So or course Adam is bloated with false bravado, of course Anders is a salvia-riddle jerk and of course Blake struggles with insecurity (this time in the form of latent homosexuality).  If you like these characters, it’s only because you understand and can laugh at their shortcomings.

For other viewers they are just a group of selfish, self-righteous morons, which again could be funny, but it doesn’t work for 100 minutes or when the plot escalates to the point where you’re supposed to actively root for them.

There are some thrills to the movie, but they often end too soon for the sake of a graphic practical or visual effect which only cheapens the movie as a whole.  I think the movie would leave a better lasting impact if it did away with all explosions as a whole rather than rely on poorly rendered explosive graphics, making this feel like an extended cut of a Funny or Die video in which the cheapness is sometimes part of the appeal.

There are a bunch of cameos and a few standout moments in which the comedy works regardless of context.  Jillian Bell, Donald Faison and Fred Armisen headline this bunch.

Taking a step back, I wonder what the appeal of these characters is.  Adam, Anders and Blake are mired in a perpetual slump, characters at the bottom of a ditch who don’t realize they’ve dug it themselves.  They refuse to acknowledge that they are their own worst enemies and instead insist on fighting those they consider antagonists with the side effects of their own ego.  This means Adam will try to exert physical force, Anders will try to outsmart, and Blake will likely cower.

Through the show they have figured out what makes each character funny, and in this movie they stick rigidly to that dynamic.  Part of the problem with these stories (both in show and movie) is that the characters aren’t there to change anything or to be changed. Their problems, egos and insecurities are left unchecked because the typical antagonist is so wildly over the top.

These are characters with their heads up their own asses, but because they’re forced to do battle with literal terrorists, those problems take a backseat and remain even when the story ends.

Now what I’d like to see is these three forced to re-evaluate themselves in a more honest, sincere way.  It might be too much to ask to take such broad characters and treat them with any sense of reality, but the effect, if done well, would probably resemble Step Brothers (2008), the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly man-child comedy.  It reckons with the characters’ extremely poor behavior and tasks them with growing up.

Up Next: Lean On Pete (2018), Hanna (2011), Phenomenon (1996)

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