Crackle’s Fourth of July comedy Mad Families is a fart in the wind. While that reads as a low blow, I have a feeling the immature filmmakers will actually take that in stride.
Strange Wilderness’ Fred Wolf (of the Happy Madison staple) directs a script he wrote with his Joe Dirt co-writer David Spade. Spade, known for his dry sarcasm, only makes a small cameo in this bloated sweet-and-salty comedy about families competing for a triple-booked campsite on the holiday weekend. Since all three families are of different ethnicities (White, Black, and Hispanic), this opens the film up to an endless stream of jokes about racial stereotypes. Mad Families is overzealous though, and occasionally turns its off-colour sense of humour into an opportunity for equality – it wants to have its cake and eat it too essentially.
I’m not opposed to this idea, but Mad Families doesn’t have the ability to pull off this high wire act. In order for this to work, the racial jabs have to be few and far between to allow the wholesome qualities to breathe. Unfortunately, the comedy decides to give hysterical characters material that only pertains to their culture, along with playful digs at people that aren’t them. The exchanges eventually slow down, but in a disingenuous way that suggests some sort of obligation.
During the final stretch of Mad Families, the production gives up on its message to let the cast yuk around with each other (including comic relief by eccentric character actor Clint Howard doing what Clint Howard does best, and a lazy turn from Charlie Sheen that suggests he’s still living out his days of “winning”). An upside to this goofing around is that the filmmakers and actors never take this movie seriously, defining the film as dopey fluff (which it is). It does, however, make Grown Ups look like a comic masterpiece.
Aside from a few funny quips (“She has so much rhythm, she could butt-dial a rotary phone”), the innocuous Mad Families is just as forgettable as, well, Crackle.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie