Tuesday, March 5, 2024

SNL Watch: Please Don't Destroy - The Treasure of Foggy Mountain (2023)

Watched:  03/04/2024
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Paul Briganti
Selection:  Me

SNL has always been a weird beast.  It's not just stand-ups asked to do their bit to audition, I suppose.  Since Andy Samberg brought along the Lonely Island guys and made shorts for the show, it seems like SNL has been looking to recreate some of that magic.  A few years ago, they recruited Please Don't Destroy, three comedy writers/ performers who usually do one pre-recorded sketch per episode.  They were making videos in their apartment during covid, and they were actually pretty good if you find them in YouTube.  

The videos, which work very well in SNL's current format of trying to find viral success on social media more than they seek to earn Saturday night viewers, live, have been popular, I guess, as they keep making them.  But these guys seem to have some chops, and I imagine they'll be in the comedy game for a long time.

They're also self-confessed nepobabies, which explains some of how they wound up rocketing to success, and, possibly, part of how they wound up with a movie by the age of 27.

Upon release, the movie got scathing reviews.  But, honestly, I didn't pay much attention to that.  The sorts of things sketch comics tend to do when making their first movies tend to drive movie-reviewers insane who aren't already bought into their whole deal.  I very much recall the reviews for Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, which was @#$%ing hilarious.  

Un-shockingly, the movie is more or less a 90 minute version of what these guys do every week on SNL.  And to explain a joke is to kill it, so I won't.  But if you like that, you may like the movie.  But you may also want to watch it in 3 chunks or so, because it can be a tad exhausting keeping up with the pacing.

The basic plot is that these are three guys who live in a small town, working for one of their dads (Conan O'Brien) at a Bass Pro Shop knock-off, but they're comedy movie slackers who arrive late and get in shenanigans en route.  This is a feature, not a bug.  Each has their deal - Ben should take over the business one day, but wants to open a very different business.  Martin is marrying a very Christian girl who is making... you know what?  I don't want to ruin it.  And John has nothing going on and is afraid his friends are drifting away.

They realize they have the map to a lost treasure - a bust of Marie Antoinette worth maybe $100 million.  Off they go to the woods to find it.

There's a surprising supporting cast, including Conan O'Brien.  Hacks' Megan Stalter is fantastic as a forest ranger, and along with comedian X Mayo.  John Goodman provides narration as John Goodman.  Sunita Mani is under-used, but it's good to see her on screen.  Much like Cedric Yarbrough.  Bowen Yang is very good with his limited screen time.

Maybe one of the more promising things to come out of the movie is that they know they're there to generate jokes from start to finish.  You can tell some things probably were intended to get explored more and were cut (what was with the bear?), but the biggest thing was that they don't get worried about plot in the 3rd act, which is the death of so many comedies.  Yes, we need for things to wrap up, but that doesn't mean we wanted the comedy to stop so we could get through the plot points.  This movie doesn't really care about it's own plot points overly much - it's just a framework on which to overlay everything else.  So they can wink their way right through.

Anyway, it's an early swing from guys with a lot of potential, still in that energetic phase of their career before they start making movies that become increasingly closer to dramedies, and then just straight up depressing stuff when they're hitting 40, before realizing they would like money and try to go back to making wacky stuff.  Or they get scooped up into Marvel somehow.

This movie isn't great, but it is a good, stupid comedy and absolutely nails what it's trying to do.  If the kids find it, it'll be a cult classic.  If not, it'll be "the early work of former Please Don't Destroy member X".  

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