Jan 17, 2019
Well, it’s just me today. (BOOO!) Hey now! I promise that Andrew will be back tomorrow with another film from Fantastic Fest, and Garrett will be back with another review shortly. But for today, you’ve got me, and if that disappoints you, wait until you get to my review. For another Kate Micucci film, check out the delightfully blasphemous film called “The Little Hours” (Episode #100). And for a film at least in part about Chevy Chase, check out “A Futile & Stupid Gesture” (Episode #027). I’ll be referencing it in my review.
Today’s movie is “The Last Laugh” (2019), the Netflix Original comedy written and directed by Greg Pritikin. The film follows Al Hart (Chevy Chase), a talent agent struggling with the transition to an assisted living center. However, when he runs into his first client, Buddy Green (Richard Dreyfuss), the two hatch a plan to restart Buddy’s career in the hopes of performing in New York.
I want to open today’s review by talking about the various ways you can ruin a movie. The first and most obvious is to have a bad screenplay, similar to having a bad foundation on which to build a house. The second is to waste the talent brought to the film, either by underutilization or overutilization. The third and last is the gild the lily, which for those who don’t know the saying, is to keep adding to something that is already beautiful. And unfortunately, today’s film breaks all three rules.
“The Last Laugh” is built on a decent, if unbalanced script, a mixture of a reflection on aging and dying, a buddy road trip, and a film about stand-up comedy. The film has two major parts: the opening third where we’re introduced to Al Hart and Buddy Green at the assisted living center, watching Al go from resisting, to accepting, then resisting again, followed by the last two-thirds which is Al and Buddy out on the road, each running from their lives in some way. The opening third is a struggle to get through to the film’s main premise, but gets enjoyable enough in the middle, right before ending very abruptly. Too much setup, not enough resolution. A bad place to end a film about aging and dying. So, that’s strike one.
Strike two is a wholly unbelievable Chevy Chase, who is expected to play a straight-laced talent agent that apparently never touched a drug in his life. Anyone who knows Chevy Chase’s career can imagine how fake that performance might be, especially when he meets new love interest Doris (Andie MacDowell) while on the road. If you don’t know much about Chevy Chase’s life, check out the aforementioned “A Futile & Stupid Gesture” for his Caddyshack days. By contrast, I found Richard Dreyfuss’s performance to be much better, especially while doing stand-up, but also presenting a distinct character in Buddy Green, often shoring up Chevy Chase’s performance with their on-screen chemistry. It also helps that Buddy Green’s story is so much more compelling than Al Hart’s.
Layered on top of this is strike three: a wholly invasive original musical score from Greg Pritikin and Jay Weigel, a mixture of Gershwin-esque music that might have worked for the same movie forty years ago, but feels out of place for a film set during the modern day. Worse yet, while the score itself had a measure of consistency throughout the film, the music often clashed with the tone, especially towards the end as Buddy’s secret becomes apparent.
“The Last Laugh” (2019) is a gilded lily, built on a bad script, and severely underutilizes half of the cast. While Richard Dreyfuss excels as Buddy Green, Chevy Chase flounders as Al Hart, and the film attempts to overcome its difficulties with too much humor based on shock value. Fans of either Chevy Chase or Richard Drefyuss, or fans of stand-up comedy, may want to seek out this film, but beware it may leave you as disappointed as I was.
Rotten Tomatoes: NR
One Movie Punch: 5.0/10
“The Last Laugh” (2019) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.