Broken Lizard’s Club Dread

Everyday is a holiday on Pleasure Island, a tropical getaway owned by famous 70’s singer Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton, trying very, very hard). His employees (Brittany Daniel, Lindsay Price, and Broken Lizard: Steve Lemme, Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske), work hard to please the guests (including Jordan Ladd, “Cabin Fever”), which turns out to be tougher than it sounds because there’s a bloodthirsty murderer is on the loose, taking down the staff one by one. Even as they accuse each other of the crimes, Pete’s crew must work together to figure who the killer is, or get the hell off the island. Whatever comes first.

Apparently Satan’s contracts for superstardom are going for an all time low rate recently, what with the rise of Paris Hilton and the return of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard to the big screen. Arriving out of nowhere (and I mean NOWHERE. Who‘s heard of these guysr), Broken Lizard shot to a small allotment of fame with their 2002 cult hit, “Super Troopers.“ I wasn’t a fan of the stale goofball humor performed by a cast that looked a little shell-shocked to be in front of a camera, but the Lizard has done something interesting for their next feature. In place of treading the same comedic ground, they decided to change locales and genres a bit, and make a comedic slasher film of all things.

If the mixture of laughs and disembowelments looks odd in print, it plays even worse on celluloid. As neat and admirable as the idea for “Club Dread” is, the Lizard gang once again sinks a good idea with their trademarked laugh-free brand of joke telling and acting. Most of the gags are either pretty lowball or DOA stuff, featuring lines like “hide the sausage,” a masseuse who can easily access orgasm points on the body, spit takes, a South American employee who pronounces Penelope as “Peenoloop,” and director Jay Chandrasekhar as a proper English tennis pro sporting a huge set of ridiculous island dreadlocks. Yeah, hilarious. I’ve got no problem with silly, but the Lizard have little idea what to do with silly, and they continually beat jokes to death, often delivering punch lines twice for full effect. Mix deathly unfunny humor with various throat-slashings and impalements, and the result isn’t a sly dark comedy, but an awkward muddle of two genres that don’t traditionally blend well together.

“Club Dread” also feels the need to halt the film often to pay homage to past horror films like “Jaws,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Halloween,” without ever trying out something new in the genre by themselves. The exhausted explanation of “paying tribute to the old school!” died with last year’s “Cabin Fever,” and “Club Dread” feels scattershot and unadventurous in comparison. And I think the last thing any filmmaker should be doing is reminding the audience that they could be watching better films.

In “Super Troopers,” the low point of the picture was a desperately unfunny scene where a man seemingly has sex with a bear. In “Club Dread,” the moment is repeated, but this time a pretzel makes love to a watermelon. Don’t ask.

If the Broken Lizard has another opportunity to make a film (that sound you hear is me fingering rosary beads, praying that doesn’t happen), maybe they should just have it feature each member of the troupe simply introducing themselves. After two films, I have yet to understand what makes them funny, and if “Club Dread” is the type of filmmaking we can expect from them in the future, maybe Broken Lizard is better left unknown.

Rating: D