The idea itself is comedic, but it’s hard to make even a feature this short (94 minutes including credits) funny based on one trick. Many of the deaths (never thought I would have to say this:) just aren’t that funny, only producing smirks and faint chuckles due to the cameos. Chris Penn, in particular (in his final performance—the movie premiered at Sundance the day after his death), sparks an ear-to-ear smile as one of the dimwitted Darwin cases.
Fiennes is robotic as the paranoid detective with Monk-like qualities and the ability to sniff out both Darwin cases and what style underwear you’re in, partnered with a cute, likable Winona Ryder after he is fired for botching an arrest while working for the SFPD. The two set off in typical road fashion, bickering and falling for one another along the way. Interfering in both the blossoming relationship and the entirety of The Darwin Awards is a mockumentary style (with Wilmer Valderrama behind the camera), which since it’s only used here-and-there, is more gimmicky than clever.
Director Finn Taylor has a limitless hoard of humor to work with as far as the Darwin Awards go, which date back to at least 1991. Instead, most of the depicted events are based on urban legends rather than the “winners.” Essentially a series of vignettes mixed with some iffy investigation scenes, The Darwin Awards doesn’t have much in the way of plot…but hey, the soundtrack’s good.
Cast and Crew Interviews: Director Finn Taylor (4:48), Winona Ryder (0:49), Joseph Fiennes (1:51), Juliette Lewis (1:04), Julianna Margulies (0:18), Chris Penn (0:32), David Arquette (0:41), and Wilmer Valderrama (1:21) each sit down for individual interviews. Only half exceed a minute’s length, so there’s nothing here in the way of juicy gossip or insightful tales.
And rounding out the disc are a Photo Gallery and Trailers.