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BASEKETBALL

1998, Dir. David Zucker
103 min. Rated R.
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Yasmine Bleeth.

Review by Noel Wood

A friend of mine who often has pretty good tastes once raved about how hysterical this movie was. So one night, after being bored with everything else in the video store and just having seen too many movies where I actually had to use my brain, I opted to rent this one as a pure escape. All I want to know is where I can get a hold of whatever that shit was my friend was smoking that actually led him to believe this was a funny movie.

Let's get this out in the open first: I've never been a big fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I find "South Park" sporadically amusing but for the most part idiotic. But I decided not to let my prejudice get in the way for this one, even though it stars the duo. And I still found myself struggling not to turn the movie off halfway through, hoping that somewhere in there that there would be a joke that actually worked.

And I waited. And I waited some more. And I think I got a half-assed smile from a scene at the end involving Reggie Jackson, but that's as far as it got. I've yet to figure out why so many people have raved about how funny this movie really is. I was actually BORED.

But we're dealing with filmmakers who think that Robert Stack cursing on "Unsolved Mysteries" is funny. We're dealing with filmmakers who go so far as to use not one, but THREE pratfall gags where a guy getting his head bumped on something falls down in the same movie. We're dealing with filmmakers who think that putting three-foot phalluses on a film's lead and having Yasmine Bleeth make dick jokes is funny.

Now, I'm all for sophomoric humor in a film, but only when it works. For starters, let's compare this with the Farrelys' THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, a film which also employs lowest-common-denominator toilet humor, but uses it to a much greater effect.

In MARY, we get the stream of sick jokes. Someone's genitalia is caught in a zipper. Girl uses seminal discharge as hair gel. Wretched old lady gets viewed topless. Dog flies out of the window. Yeah, shock-level gags which sit on a par with some of the stuff in BASEKETBALL, but there's a subtle difference. Each of the scenes in MARY wind up having an aftereffect on the film. Each one winds up being a plot point, while at the same time generating a second laugh moment, but still leaving a storyline intact beneath the jokes. For instance, we see the set-up joke (Magda's chihuahua barks at Matt Dillon, so he subdues the dog with drugs) followed by the clincher joke (Dog goes nuts and attacks Stiller, evolving into the infamous out-the-window scene), and finally the subtle aftershock joke (Stiller parades around with injured dog in a bodycast). Meanwhile, the story is being progressed through the string of jokes. Whether or not the gags are funny is irrelevant, it's how they pay off in the course of the story.

In BASEKETBALL, we get no payoff. It's just a worthless gag that's been seen time and time again. We see giant cocks and hear horrible dick jokes, but there's no payoff. We see Jenny McCarthy act out sexual double-entendres in a literal sense, but it goes nowhere and becomes stale after the first attempt. We actually get the opporitunity for a decent albeit done-to-death bit of humor involving a transvestite, but they even fuck that one up and leave the joke dead in the water before it can even progress in to a joke. So we get no justification for the joke to exist, and to make matters worse, they're not even remotely funny.

To be fair, the humor in the two films does differ. MARY uses feasible though outlandish scenarios, while BASEKETBALL uses fantasy-based spots. But that doesn't mean David Zucker couldn't have worked a little more effort in to the humor, rather than relying on cheap mindless profanity and sight gags. There was almost nothing redeeming in this film. Oh, look, the Beers' mascot is a keg! And he relieves himself by draining his tap! The team names were supposed to be humorous, but employed no clever forethought at all. San Francisco "Ferrys"? Please.

Like I said, I was BORED. I don't usually get that way during 103-minute comedies, especially when I'm in the mood to zone out. But BASEKETBALL is that bad. Maybe I shouldn't have given Trey Parker and Matt Stone the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they suck worse than even I ever imagined. Or maybe it's just that David Zucker, who once brought gems like TOP SECRET! and KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE to life, has finally reached his creative low and feels the only route he has left is letting Robert Stack say the F word and watching hilarity ensue.

Sad.

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