- Rated R
All photos © Picturehouse
Reviewed by David Medsker
t certainly sounds like a good idea on paper. Vince Vaughn’s “Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland” features four stand-up comedians and assorted FoV bringing the funny. Well, at least it’s supposed to bring the funny. The catch is that the comedians…um, let’s just say that the Blue Collar gang need not bother checking their rear view mirrors. The movie has its good points – the comedians seem to genuinely like each other, and there is no macho bullshit behind the scenes – but the vast majority of stand-up footage falls flat, resulting in not just the longest 100-minute comedy but the longest 100-minute movie you’ve ever seen.
The tour begins in Hollywood and wastes no time pulling out the big guns, as Vaughn recruits “Swingers” pal Jon Favreau and “Dodgeball” co-star Justin Long for a “Dinner for Two” sketch (which ends with Long reading “Swingers” dialogue while doing a spot-on impression of Vaughn). At this point the comedians become the focus of the movie and the results are mixed, to say the least. Bret Ernst is arguably the funniest of the bunch, with newcomer Sebastian Maniscalo (he still hadn’t given up his day job waiting tables when he joined the tour) growing in confidence before your eyes. John Caparulo, meanwhile, is the unholy love child of Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White – he has Larry’s mannerisms and White’s timing, and is therefore no coincidence that he made an appearance on a “Blue Collar” TV special last year – and Egyptian-born Ahmed Ahmed, sad to say, is just not that funny. He seems like a decent enough fellow, but the terrorist shtick gets old in a hurry. Indeed, you get the sense that director Ari Sandel feels the same way, as Ahmed barely appears in the second half of the movie.
In a rare twist, it is the offstage footage that proves to be the movie’s saving grace. Vaughn may be the name at the top of the marquee, but his stage time is minimal – his best moment involves roping producer Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”) into re-enacting a 1990 After School Special the two did involving steroids – opting to spend the majority of the movie serving as the tour bus cheerleader. For someone who has a habit of running over his co-stars as he improvs them to death, it is nice to see him relinquish the spotlight for a change. It is also nice to see a group of men not devolve into apes while on the road. There is little in the way of pranks and partying (though we do see them enjoy a drink or two), and most surprisingly, there is no sex. Maybe the boys did get lucky, and the girls refused to sign a waiver (smart), but as far as we can tell, these guys were comedy monks. Who knew?
“Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland” shows up on IMDb as a 2006 release, which begs some questions: did they really envision the movie as a video of life on the road, or did they imagine it as a “Blue Collar”-type concert movie, only to re-cut it once they realized that the stand-up performances weren’t strong enough? Credit Vaughn for being faithful to the people he called his friends before he hit it big (Ahmed), but anyone hoping to find the next shooting star of comedy will not find them here. They may find the next Bob Nelson, but not the next Patton Oswalt.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
Documentarians, by nature, shoot lots of footage that winds up on the cutting room floor, and Picturehouse made the most of it for this DVD. Each comic gets his own featurette, which includes longer pieces of their routines – and in some cases the bits here are funnier than what wound up in the movie. There are two audio commentaries, one from Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley and another featuring director Ari Sandel and all of the comics (except John Caparulo). Both are informative, though the comics are obviously more entertaining. Rounding out the extra features are bits on the logistics of putting the tour together (they had four weeks, but needed three months) and a behind-the-scenes look at the tour, which includes a hilarious fight between Caparulo and Bret Ernst over a sandwich, and Vaughn’s sketchy karaoke version of “Sweet Caroline.” It’s one of those rare instances where the extras are arguably better than the main attraction.