The most amusing thing about Quasi is how the guys of Broken Lizard have finally owned up to being a bunch of dorks who are actually *really* into Monty Python, notably Life of Brian and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  That’s an oddly charming concept considering the comedy troupe are frat symbols known for making meatheaded comedies like Super Troopers and Beerfest.  We all remember that jock who had to take an arts extra-curricular in high school and wound up in drama class.  Now, imagine if that jock multiplied, dropped the sports ball, embraced period costumes, and kept making snappy banter about efficient torture chambers.

The scenery for Broken Lizard may have changed to medieval times for Quasi, a film explaining the “real” story of hunchback Quasimodo, but they haven’t changed their type of humour.  There are lots of buddy dynamics with inappropriate quips and gross-out sight gags.  However, just like the parallels to Woody Allen’s neurotic humour in Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, Broken Lizard uses their brand of sarcasm to play up the absurdity of how good fortune can take a drastic turn for the worse.  In this spoof, the titular bell-ringer (Steve Lemme doing his best Little Nicky impression) is hired by King Guy (Jay Chandrasekhar) to kill the rivalrous Pope Cornelius (Paul Soter).  However, when the plan goes awry, Quasi is propositioned by the Pope to kill the conceited King.

Chandrasekhar is usually in the director’s chair, but this is an endeavour helmed by the troupe’s Kevin Heffernan (whose only other director’s credit for Broken Lizard is the underrated workplace comedy The Slammin’ Salmon).  The comics are in their best element when their movies resemble sketch comedy, and Chandrasekhar usually knows how to steer the ship.  For more narrative-based projects, with two projects under his belt, Heffernan shows strong competency when telling a story.  This direction provides a foundation for more structured bits, such as when the guys are trying to be crude while also paying respect to comedians that have inspired them.  The assumption that Broken Lizard appreciates Monty Python is so predominant, other than the actors playing multiple roles, is because the film skates very close to that same silly brilliance seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – at least, for the first hour.

There’s a recurring misstep in Broken Lizard’s recent work that involves replaying its own hits.  Just like in Super Troopers 2, for the final 30 minutes, Quasi latches on to a few main jokes that worked earlier on, and milks them dry and then some.  This repetition not only slows down the movie, but allows the viewers to pick apart the joke and ponder why it was funny in the first place.  If the audience is turning on a film’s humour like that, it means that they’re bored and are striving for reassurance that, unfortunately, never comes.

I like Quasi enough to recommend it despite its unsatisfying finish.  I just hope Broken Lizard reminds themselves of the beauty of jokes that are, as they say, one-and-done.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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