Let's Go to Prison

"Weak"

Let's Go to Prison Review


I can attest first-hand that there are certain facts about Let's Go to Prison that might make it seem worthwhile. It was directed by Bob Odenkirk, the "Bob" half of the sometimes brilliant sketch comedy show Mr. Show with Bob & David; it was written by other sketch-comedy veterans, driving forces behind The State and, more recently, Reno 911; and it stars Will Arnett from Arrested Development, a show that was not sketch comedy but still favored by comedy connoisseurs. Other loose-collective comedies of this time period, like Talladega Nights or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, pool comedy's best and brightest to thoroughly entertaining results. Why should this lower-wattage but still talent-heavy film be any different?

Well, Let's Go to Prison also stars Dax Shepard, so maybe that should sound the alarm. But Prison is actually too mediocre to explain away by the presence of one guy from Punk'd. In fact, Shepard isn't a problem at all. He plays John Lyshitski (the film nicks one of the saddest Farrelly brothers trademarks -- non-jokes where the very presence of the S-word functions as a de facto punchline), a career petty criminal plagued by his own ineptitude and a hardass judge. Before he can get revenge, the judge dies -- so naturally he frames the judge's spoiled son, Nelson Biederman IV (Arnett), and gets himself thrown back in jail, pretending to befriend Biederman but tormenting him behind his back.

The film trips up immediately by refusing the utilize the vastness of Arnett's talent for creating hilariously entitled boors. Maybe the idea was to avoid reprising his Arrested Development character -- also a spoiled jackass -- but Nelson Biederman IV is too pathetic, too fast. There are some solid laughs rooted in his privileged naiveté, but when you should start getting caught up in farce, you feel sorry for him instead, and annoyed at Lyshitski's dopey plan.

Indeed, it's the kind of punchy but thin story that might work as a comic short subject, but seems ill-conceived once it passes the thirty-minute mark. Co-screenwriters Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon have made a side career writing blueprints for studio dreck like The Pacifier or Herbie: Fully Loaded, but Let's Go to Prison has a whole different kind of crumminess. Their screenplay seems curiously, well, if not personal, of a particular sensibility. It is crude and plodding, yes, but also dark, and cheerful about its darkness -- there are a wealth of jokes about suicide, rape, and other horrors of life in the joint. From these depths come the occasional funny one-liners. Describing the prison's resident white supremacist, for example, Shepard tells Arnett not to be fooled: "Underneath all the swastikas, he's a real prick." Odd that this off-kilter wit is displayed with such stinginess (or is it laziness?).

Odder still, the screenplay is supposedly an adapted one -- Lyshitski's voiceover narration shoehorns in some factoids about prison life taken from a nonfiction book called You Are Going to Prison, by Jim Hogshire. I guess the filmmakers thought using some real-life statistics would make crude comedy into satire. But the film's occasional chuckles have more to do with sketch-style absurdity, such as Biederman's mumbling, absent-minded affection for the song "Move This" by Technotronic. Moments like that -- powered by Arnett's flawless delivery -- keep Let's Go to Prison from comedy death row. But if disappointing alt-comedy fans is ever made illegal, the filmmakers will have to start looking over their shoulders.

Stop, hammer time.



Let's Go to Prison

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Friday 17th November 2006

Box Office USA: $5.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $4.6M

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as John Lyshitski, as Nelson Biederman IV, as Barry, as Shanahan, as Warden, as Lynard, Miguel Nino as Jesus, Jay Whittaker as Icepick, as Judge Eva Fwae Wun, David Darlow as Judge Biederman, Joseph Marcus as Pawn Broker, Nick Phalen as John - 8 years, A.J. Balance as John - 18 years, Jerry Minor as Breen Guard, Mary Seibel as Old Bartender, Susan Messing as Stripper, Jim Zulevic as Sgt. Barker, Bill McGough as Deputy Mayor, as Duane, Bert Matias as Korean Pharmacist

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.