Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I am informed by old people, and please recognize that I am not a young man anymore, that National Lampoon used to not only be relevant, but downright influential. That way back there was this cutting edge politically charged magazine, chock full of humor, wit and the kind of writing creativity that would make Stephen Colbert and John Stewart weep in envy. These old people tell me that National Lampoon made a movie called ‘Animal House’, which I actually saw on its first run as a little kid, so you can see that I’m no spring chicken. This was followed by a string of ‘Vacation’ comedies which met with varying degrees of success. But in my current conscience existence, this is not the case for National Lampoon anymore. I know, and you probably know National Lampoon as the distributor of terrible comedies, far too many of which I have seen. Pucked, Ratko, the Dorm Daze series, TV: The Movie, Robodoc, Beach Party on the Threshold of Hell… with only ‘Bag Boy’, of all movies, being the lone savior of this rouges gallery of comedy failures. But yet, I faithfully watch because I honestly believe that past glory can be recaptured with just a little focus and a lot of hard work. Sure, I’ve been on the frontlines of this assault on comedy, taking bullets to the chest like a modern day Crispus Attucks, rising up like the phoenix from the ashes only to get shot down again and again. But I soldier on. You may ask ‘Christopher, why are you wasting our time with this mindless bullshit prattling? Please, get on with the task at hand.’ The reason is I have nothing of value to say about ‘National Lampoon Presents: Dirty Movie’ considering it’s not really a movie, and if I’m to reach my 700 word bare minimum I am forced to talk about other stuff. But you have to admit, the Crispus Attucks analogy is pretty damned deep.

Charlie LaRue (Christopher Meloni) wants to make a movie. He wants to make a movie like the ‘Aristocrats’ that’s all about jokes. His boss (Robert Klein) is on board. The director (Mario Cantone) is offended. The boss hires his son (John Lavelle) to write the script. It all goes to hell.

That’s pretty much it for the narrative. The rest of the movie consists of mini-sketch comedy skits of various dirty jokes performed by an ensemble cast inserted in-between this threadbare narrative. Some of these jokes are performed by topless women. And the movie has two midgets in its cast, which could very well be a record for midgets in a movie that isn’t about midgets.

The main question would be, of course, is ‘Dirty Movie’ funny. Oh you silly person out there, of course it’s not. Now we do see Funny as a quantifiable measure. For instance, take a movie like… I don’t know… ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ which certainly qualified as funny to us, but it wasn’t wall to wall funny because it had this story it had to tell. This movie has virtually no story to tell and as such it is wall to wall jokes and to be successful I would guess that it would have to hit on at least sixty percent of its target funny. So with roughly one hundred and twenty jokes (note I spelled that out as opposed to simply putting in ‘120’ to reach the quota) I laughed six times. And they were six good laughs with two of these jokes being added to my personal joke recital collection. But doing that math, this puts us at five percent, far below the required sixty. For comparison, ‘Schindler’s List’ ran around eight percent, but it did score higher than ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ which only scored at a paltry 3% of funny. More problematic is that only one of these laughs came from the sketch cutaways. The narrative actually provided the majority of the funny when our main characters were auditioning the jokes, particularly when John Lavelle was telling them. I think he must be a genuinely funny dude.

But the damdest thing is that ‘National Lampoon Presents: Dirty Movie’ is way better than I expected it to be, even though it was terrible, when taken as a whole. Seriously, I had this DVD lying on the floor that I would accidentally step on, or accidentally throw in the dumpster, or accidentally scratch the shit out of that silver side while putting the DVD in the player because ‘National Lampoon’ has become a euphemism for ‘Time in Front of your TV Not Laughing’ and my subconscious was avoiding it. But it wasn’t as bad as I feared. And it was funnier than ‘Cannibal Holocaust’. That’s gotta be worth something.

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