Run Ronnie Run (2002), or The Last Dying Gasp Of Mr. Show

13 09 2009

God damn it, they really did it this time! You know, for every great big pat on the back I give alt comedy, there are shows and movies out there featuring the genre that make me wonder why I even like it at all. Today’s feature is certainly one of those movies that just makes me feel like all this time I’ve been championing something really stupid. I’m ALWAYS telling people about strange alt comedy and how funny it is, holding it up like a gleaming sapphire and attempting to get the people of America to lay down their awful, awful sitcoms and niche webcomics. Most of the time it doesn’t work, and it’s terribly disheartening, so when a movie like today’s comes out, featuring the two men who I respect as the Godfathers of my favorite comedy styling, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, and it sucks this bad, I look at my brilliant sapphire and wonder if it isn’t just a shiny toilet tablet. Because Run Ronnie Run, the infamous film buried by New Line due to the creators publicly disowning it, is a laughingstock and a personal besmirchment to my sense of humor.

Based on one of my favorite shows of ever and ever, Mr. Show with Bob and David, it showcases frequent recurring character Ronnie Dobbs in the starring role. Ronnie is exceptional for two reasons; he’s an extraordinarily white trash loser, and he finds himself being arrested on a ridiculously consistent basis. He’s always on some sort of Cops-like program, making a scene, causing a fuss, fucking goats, attacking officers with lobsters; you know, the usual. He’s incredibly entertaining in a drunken, rowdy kind of way, and TV personality Terry Twillstein sees some serious potential in him. He tracks down Ronnie, and offers him the chance to have his own TV show, in which he would get arrested all around the world. Ronnie, takes him up on this offer, seeing as he didn’t have anything else going on at the time. And not only do they film the show about Ronnie getting drunk and doing stupid shit and getting arrested, but it is a hit! A bona-fide cultural phenomenon, Ronnie becomes a household name, and his life changes drastically. He gets the money, the fame, the fancy lifestyle, and at first it is sweet. But blah blah blah he starts missing his old life blah blah blah it’s more fulfilling to be a redneck blah blah blah you know this story by now.

Run Ronnie Run is that movie where a handful of extremely funny moments punctuate long moments of tame, banal comedy that would do better in a sucky early 00’s Rob Schneider comedy. It’s embarrassingly uncharacteristic of these two to make something so sophomoric. I’ve read many, many possible explanations as to why two of the funniest men in the business delivered such a dud, and I’ve come to the conclusion that while the idea was conceived in a haze of building bridges to the general audiences, which is a major mistake in and of itself (Bob Odenkirk, in a critique of the film, likens his vision to a mixture of genuinely funny material mixed with big-budget, Sandler-esque ventures in order to acquaint people with he and David’s style of comedy), the fault lies in the incapable hands of the director, Troy Miller. He actually had the gall to take the final cut for himself (!!!!!) when the whole damn thing was written by and acted out by Bob and David, and based on a show that was similarly created by the duo. In a situation like that, a director should be there to ease the strain on the two making all the funny happen, but Troy “King of the World” Miller decided that despite not doing a whole lot in the big picture, he felt that this was a perfect opportunity to use his clout as director and make his own movie. The result is a disjointed exercise in Hollywood movie-making that almost expunges the inherent awkwardness that any Bob and David creation.

It’s well acted by the leads, Bob and David, but I have rarely seen worse cameos. And there are a lot of them! Brian Posehn comes down from the cave he lives in and gives what must be the least inspired thing I’ve ever seen him do, which is a shame because he is a damn funny man. Same goes for Jeff Goldblum, who plays himself in a scene that I suppose could have been funny at one point in its conception. Ben Stiller, John Stamos, and Rebecca Romijn pass through the film like a cameo machine gun and are equally unimpressive. Sarah Silverman (!), Andy Richter (!!), and my main man Dave Foley (!!!) are in this movie, but even they are no match for this hatchet job from the ninth circle. It almost seems like they thought cameos were going to carry the movie, and it’s not a bad lBut Jack Black deserves a fucking Oscar for his cameo, which involves him doing a little chimney sweepin’ and singing a lovely song about how to treat women. It goes a little something like this:

Good job, Jack, but it’s a case of too little too late here.

It’s just not very funny. In the end, everyone’s a little to blame, though. Troy Miller should never have taken final cut away from the people who came up with all the funny (How hard is it to direct comedy anyway? You’re not second unit on a Tarkovsky film, fellows, so cut the ego!), Bob and David should never have compromised their vision for the mainstream, and the studio should have backed up the creators in the first place so that they wouldn’t have had to bury this film on DVD as a result of its poor quality. But what can you do in hindsight? Bob and David have both gone on to brighter, funnier pastures, and I still enjoy both of their endeavors, so I have no hard feelings against them, but Run Ronnie Run will always be a reminder that perhaps it’s not a good idea to build bridges to places where people won’t understand what you have to offer. So, with a heavy heart, I solemnly give Run Ronnie Run 3 chubby chimney sweeps out of 10.

I have been given a special request by a couple newcomers to watch one of my favorite movies from my childhood tomorrow, Tremors! I can’t wait! Until then!!!

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