Fantastic Fest Review – LAZER TEAM & IN SEARCH OF THE ULTRA SEX

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Does anyone remember The Watch? That was the 2012 bomb starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade has small town dorks who, somehow, become the best suited people on Earth from stopping an alien invasion. If you don’t remember it’s ok — the movie made about fifty cents at the box office and was pretty bad, but in that completely bland, forgettable, space-saving sort of way. Well, if you wanted to see what a dumb Hollywood scifi comedy would be like on a tiny fraction of the budget and made my the hottest names in early viral video fame than the hottest stars of mainstream man-child comedy, then Lazer Team is for you.

Rooster Teeth is an online comedy group best known for creating the hugely popular web series Red vs Blue, a goofy sitcom that repurposes Halo gameplay for its own hilarious ends. Last year, the group became famous for launching one of the single most successful Indiegogo campaigns ever, exceeding their stated $650,000 goal by amassing a whopping $2.5 million dollars to churn out a live action feature film influenced by their geek-oriented humor. The result was Lazer Team…a man-child sci-fi comedy about small town dorks who, somehow, become the best suited people on Earth from stopping an alien invasion.

Benevolent aliens contact the US military warning of an impending attack from a more violent race, telling them to choose a child to train as a “champion of the world” while the good aliens send a special suit of armor across the cosmos to aid them. But when Adam (Alan Ritchson) has matured in a golden Adonis with unimpeachable skills and the spaceship carrying the armor descends to Earth on the outskirts of Milford, Texas, it is knocked out of orbit by a firecracker wielded by a drunken, bitter one time high school football star (Colton Dunn), and each of the four pieces of armor, through a convoluted series of shenanigans,  winds up on a body part belonging to one of four misfits who wind up in the same place at the same time: the drunk, his yokel sidekick, a washed-up sheriff’s deputy and the cocky high school quarterback romancing said deputy’s daughter.

If you’ve seen any form of dumb-dude comic entertainment in the thirty years since Police Academy, you’ll know exactly how Lazer Team will proceed to function: misfits bicker, fail to work as a team until it’s time to work as a team, somehow saving the day beside being wildly unqualified. Cue stuff hitting crotches, gay panic jokes, fat jokes and ogling sexual objectification of nubile blonde women.

Lazer Team registers a few chuckles here and there, but it rarely finds a gag in can’t beat into oblivion with repetition. At almost two hours long, it overstays it’s welcome, but on the plus side, it pulses with energy, the actors, led by Rooster Teeth founder Burnie Burns are likable in a broad sort-of way and it looks polished for a film of its budget. But it’s a manchild comedy in a sea of man-child comedies — which means the Rooster Teeth gang will certainly have a future ahead of them.

Lazer Team is childish, but it looks like the works of Aligheri next to the puerile French-language gagfest In Search of the Ultra-Sex. It’s Flesh Gordon meets Kung Pow: Enter The Fist by way of Everything Is Terrible in this comedic hodgepodge of cheesy old porn clips stitched together, which manages to somehow tell a coherent, if thin, story out of nothing but old repurposed film footage.

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A spaceship watches in horror as an outbreak of libidinal madness overtakes the world, turning everyone into sex-crazed maniacs after someone steals the “UltraSex” — a matrix that regulates sexual self-control. Revamping David Cronenberg’s Shivers as a goofball found art comedy of kitsch proportions, it weaves together vintage 70s and 80s adult film footage (falling just shy of the hardcore parts), clips from an old no-budget sci-fi film and, randomly, Samurai Cop, all overlaid with an obnoxious narrator describing action, telling us the plot and providing “wacky” voices.

And that is why and where Ultra Sex fails — the narrator is face-punchingly awful. It’s  a snickering, childish thing, talking non-stop over the movie but with a wit that fails to extend  it beyond wacky voices, smutty ‘60s-era-edgy sex jokes and naming a robot character “Robot Daft Punk.” It’s humor on the level of 5th graders typing “BOOBS” on a calculator and laughing. Which is too bad, because there is natural humor extend from the clips themselves.

There is a campy, kitschy value in resurrecting these long-lost images, which generally prove that porn used to be very, very weird. Out of context, these films are thrilling and goofy and bizarre to watch — men with penises for a nose, something that looks like a full naked yoga-ballet in a public access Tron universe,  an “Edward Penishands” with penile prosthetics that look less phallic and more like funnels carved out of parsnips. There is history here, weird history for sure, and it may have probably more interesting and more fruitful to just give us a retrospective documentary overview of this era of filmic history than to marriage it to an unfunny and immature parody.

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About Author

Johnny Donaldson

Johnny Donaldson is an actor, writer, foodie, and raconteur who’s been immersed in the geek world since childhood, especially when The X-Files changed his life. (Fox Mulder is his Han Solo.) A published film critic (his college-era movie reviews can be found in the archives of rottentomatoes.com) and a film producer with two films under his belt, Johnny likes kitty cats, coffee, the color purple (not the movie, the literal color purple), dark microbrews and good horror/scifi/fantasy and superhero movies. And occasionally long walks on the beach, when it’s not too hot.