THE MACHINE (2023)
Release Date: 05/26/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Action. Comedy.
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
"Bert's drunken past catches up with him 20 years down the road when he and his father are kidnapped by those Bert wronged 20 years ago while drunk on a college semester abroad in Russia."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Back in 2016, comedian Bert Kreischer became a viral sensation, all due to his unique stage attire and more importantly his story now known as "The Machine." In the long, detailed humorous story, Bert tells a tale of when he was young and got himself tied to the Russian mafia. 2023s The Machine plays as both a sequel to this tale, while also appeasing those that may not have heard the joke to begin with or would like a visual to see how it all went down. Not since Julia Roberts played herself in the overly complicated Ocean’s Twelve plot (which I consider more of a comedy than the film itself does) and Nicolas Cage played himself in last year’s delightfully over the top The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent have we seen such a portrayal of oneself, playing themselves in a film quite like this.
For fans of Kreischer’s comedy, the humor here may be a mixed bag – it’s ultimately the same joke you’ve heard before but now with a visual behind it and the the sequel part of the film, which makes up a majority of it – has some fantastic moments but there are patches that could have been ironed out. The pacing could use a little help here, sitting at a runtime of an hour and fifty-two minutes, the film could have easily been cut down to a 90 minute story. The film feels bloated at times, trying to compress so much into a fictional story to surround a proposed “true story” of Bert’s. I saw this film on premiere and I’ve been digesting it ever since. It's not a comedy I would see myself going back to often, but the one or two moments that truly excelled I can see myself randomly laughing out-loud just from memory.
The film is based around this singular joke, expanding a fifteen minute joke to a nearly two hour film. It’s like an SNL skit transformed into a feature – and those work only half of the time (to varying levels of success). Bert may not be an actor but he understands timing and how to deliver his lines in a way that makes his interactions pretty hilarious to watch, however it does feel like there is a lot of improvisation present – which works when it wants to. Mark Hamill and Bert Kreischer play a father and son with an injured relationship being kidnapped by the Russian mob to get back what is theirs. Hamill is unfortunately underutilized, only shining near the end of the film, his star power seemed without purpose beyond attempting to fill in seats on opening weekend (which clearly didn’t happen). It’s a limited cast, the mobsters are relatively stereotypical, whatever you’re first thought of a Russian mobster would be, the film more than likely has that idea depicted on the screen. What does work is the uncanny performance actor Jimmy Tatro (Home Economics) delivers for his youthful depiction of Bert, perfectly implementing Bert's mannerisms to absolute success.
It’s worth noting, The Machine takes full advantage of its R-rating. Director Peter Atencio also directed the one and only theatrical outing of Key & Peele (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele), Keanu. A film that’s been widely forgotten, albeit a really fun time, it also suffers from a similar issue – the premise is stretched thin. For myself, a huge fan of Key & Peele, it is a film I’ve gone back to from time to time, and I can see a similar future for die hard fans of Kreischer years from now.
When I spoke of the pacing earlier, it’s truly to the detriment of the film. Some fine-tuning of the plot and dialogue could have easily created a classic, especially for fans of Kreischer’s work. While the film is funny and worth the watch, it’s unfortunately not more than a rental to enjoy with some like minded friends on a drunken night in. However, it could grow legs in due time – but his fans have to decide that.