Review: Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show
PLOT: In September 2005, actor Vince Vaughn, along with his producing partner Peter Billingsley, gathered up four relatively unknown comics from L.A's famous Comedy Store- and took them on a cross country, month long comedy tour though America's Heartland. This documentary/ performance film, chronicles their travels.
REVIEW: I'm a huge Vince Vaughn fan. SWINGERS & MADE are a couple of bona fide classics, and some of his more obscure dramatic stuff, like THE PRIME GIG & RETURN TO PARADISE shows that not only can the guy bring da' funny- but he's also got some solid dramatic chops. After WEDDING CRASHERS exploded a couple of summers ago, Vaughn's become a superstar, and has used to his clout to take personal control of every project he gets involved with. So far the results have been mixed- THE BREAK UP was decent, but FRED CLAUS was a disaster.
In between films, Vaughn decided that he wanted to stage a big old time variety tour- and this is the result. While it definitely looks like the shows themselves were a lot of fun, this hybrid documentary/ stand up film is a bit of a mixed bag. Vaughn is definitely no stand up comedian, and this is painfully obvious from the first scene in the film- where he's onstage for about five seconds before enlisting actor pals Jon Favereau and Justin Long to come up on stage and act out a few skits with him. The Favreau/ Long skit is pretty lame, but later on he acts out a great skit with Peter Billingsley, who was a big child star back in the eighties (he was Ralphie in A CHRISTMAS STORY), before becoming a producer. In the early nineties, Vaughn & Billingsley acted in an after school special about steroids- and they perform a few scenes from the special- which leaves the audience in stitches. There's also a great bit on the tour bus, where Justin Long plays a prank on a sleeping Billingsley- who does not take the joke well, and throws a pretty funny tantrum. Keir O' Donnell- who played Christopher Walken's gay son in WEDDING CRASHERS is also on hand during a few of the shows. He does a couple of sketches with Vaughn where he more or less re-creates his character from the film.
All in all- the real stars of the show are the four unknown comics Vaughn brings along on the tour. One of the comics, Ahmed Ahmed, is a longtime friend of Vaughn's, but the other three, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst & Sebastian Maniscalco are complete unknowns who are given the opportunity of a lifetime by Vaughn- who comes across as a genuinely good guy.
Of the four stand ups, Ahmed is probably the most comfortable working the room. He uses his stand up to discuss a lot of the prejudices he faces as an Arab American. He’s consistently funny, and never comes off as preachy- which is a big plus considering his material. The other three comics are a bit more hit and miss- some of the shows do not go that well, and the camera crew is on hand though it all. At one point, Caparulo almost melts down on stage after he thinks he hears someone heckling him. Caparulo comes off less well than the other comedians, as he frequently seems to be in a bad mood off stage. His constant bitching gets old real fast. At one point, the tour gets re-routed due to Hurricane Katrina, and they perform a benefit performance for some of the now homeless victims of the storm. Prior to the show, Billingsley sends the comics out to distribute tickets at a camp ground turned emergency shelter. Caparulo begins to bitch and moan about being sent out to distribute tickets, and he comes off as a real jerk. He later re-deems himself somewhat when they play his hometown in Ohio. All in all- his stand up is probably the weakest of the four.
The other two comics, Ernst & Maniscalco, perform some great routines, but at times they seem to get short shifted somewhat. This brings me to my biggest problem with the film. There's too much behind the scenes & on the road footage, and not enough stand up. The story behind the tour is not interesting enough to sustain 100 + minutes, so they should have spent more time showcasing the stand up comedy- which for the most part is pretty good (although this isn't exactly EDDIE MURPHY RAW, so don't go in expecting to bust a gut).
Overall, VINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW is pretty entertaining, but it's not exactly the type of film that cries out to be seen on the big screen. It will probably play much better on DVD, which will give viewers the opportunity to scan through some of the slow patches, and go straight to the good stuff.