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Stream it or ignore it?

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The machine (now streaming on Netflix) is a vanity project vehicle for Bert Kreischer, the stand-up comic famous for his literally shirtless party boy persona. For anyone who doesn’t know his stuff: think Homer Simpson, but much less salvageable; for what it’s worth, he’s also the real inspiration for the main character of National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Kreischer’s most popular piece is a true but embellished saga about how he traveled to Russia while studying and got so drunk and mixed up with the local mafia that he ended up robbing his classmates and, thanks to a translation incident from English to Russian. , became known as “the Machine”. This bit went viral after he shared it on Joe Rogan’s podcast (you can moan here), and it’s now the basis for a film, which shows the film Bert returning to Russia with his estranged father, played by Mark Hamill, who inspires us to I want to jump on the screen and save it from this stupid, loud, bloated business. Again, he’s an adult and he’s on this journey, but that doesn’t mean you have to join him.

THE MACHINE:Stream it or ignore it?

The essential: Bert (Kreischer) is in therapy. He obviously needs it, since his wife LeeAnn (Stephanie Kurtzuba) and two daughters Sasha and Tatiana (Jessica Gabor and Amélie Villiers) are in session with him, and he proudly tells the doctor that he has shown significant growth in quitting to call his female. family members the C-word. It’s not nothing, I suppose, but it’s also barely anything, and anyway, I can’t wait to invite him to my next barbecue! But that’s not the only way Bert screwed up – he got plowed and asked Sasha for a ride home even though she didn’t have a license, and when they got pulled over and ‘she was arrested, he broadcast everything live. The fact that he is still married lives up to the mystery of the Sphinx. And now that all of that is established, who wants to spend the next 110 minutes with him? Any takers? At least in the hope that we might see him devoured disorderly by plague-stricken banana slugs?

That’s what happens when the slobbo, hard-drinking, party-loving stand-up comedian persona infiltrates a person’s civilian life, I suppose. Bert’s attempt to make things right with Sasha is to throw her a 16th birthday party and do his best not to make it all about him. Easier said than done, as her ex-dad Albert (Hamill) shows up to uncover all kinds of daddy issues and add a thick layer of passive-aggression to the birthday cake. And SO a Russian gangster named Irina (Iva Babic) crashes the party, pulls a gun on Bert and forces him to fly to Russia and help him find his mob boss father’s valuable pocket watch with which Bert had something to do with his infamous drunken crime. -university trip. Albert accompanies him, apparently seizing an opportunity to form some long-overdue father-son bond. Now if Bert were My offspring, I would be tempted to give him amnesia and leave him in Siberia. One might assume that Albert feels somewhat responsible for raising such a jerk and should therefore play a role in his potential redemption, but maybe that’s just me projecting moral responsibility onto a film as he usually has none.

So they arrive in Russia and it’s just shenanigans after shenanigans, cut with flashbacks to young Bert (Jimmy Tatro) being the twenty-something pissing brother whose misadventures in Russia have made him the very pissing brother successful fifty-year-old he is now. Since this plot involves gangsters, that means there are some very dramatic instances of violence, some of which are very graphic. And since it also involves flashbacks, there are countless turn-of-the-century references, ranging from Limp Bizkit to Powers of Austin. You have been warned. And since it’s Bert Kreischer, there’s alcohol and powdered drugs and a national treasure like Hamill uttering the line “she’s got the cushion for Pushkin” – and a bitter struggle to care .

THE MACHINE
Photo: Everett Collection

What films will this remind you of? : Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, you have a call on the first line. Also, that of Sebastian Maniscalco About my father followed a similar track – it’s based on his stand-up act and personality, and farts with a strained father-son relationship. A key difference? About my father It’s really funny on occasion.

Performances to watch: Hamill is actually the closest thing to funny in The machine – I have to admit that his lecherous delivery of the phrase “Pushkin” momentarily cracked the stone face I wore throughout the rest of the film.

Memorable dialogues: This line perfectly sums up the characteristic mix of self-loathing and self-aggrandizement that characterizes Kreischer’s character: “I went to Florida State. All we know how to do is fight and drink and fuck, and I can’t give a fuck!

Sex and skin: What would a film as gross as this be without a close-up of an old man’s pasty white butt? (And somehow, perhaps miraculously, doesn’t give us a close-up photo of an old man’s drooping nuts.)

Our opinion : The underlying message of The machine it’s, uh… don’t be a rude, bossy asshole? A more ambitious film might address the psychological conflict between an actor’s stage persona and his real self; even bringing up the idea of ​​an identity struggle in this context is a mistake, because it implies that the film is making any sign of it, when that is really not the case. In fact, the story shows Bert resisting the crude impulses that got him into trouble, learning that it means he’s not himself, and then, rather predictably, unleashing the entire “Machine” during the big action-packed climax. You can’t be Superman if you don’t allow yourself to fly, I guess.

Along the way, we endure an endless joke about Kreischer’s man boobs and occasionally say a prayer for Hamill as he plays second fiddle to a character who is a nominally sentient personification of wet flatulence. There’s some potential here for an examination of the complex father-son dynamic, but it doesn’t go any further than, hey, fathers exist, and being one is hard! I’m afraid that anyone not already indoctrinated into the world of Bert “The Machine” Kreischer will have a hard time finding their way in via this film, which is too long, too stupid and not as funny as they think it is.

Our call: The machine? More like Throw it into a ravine! JUMP.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.



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