Thursday, August 22, 2019

"Kung Pow" - Come Back, Steve Oedekerk, We Need Your Dumb Comedy.

*I write these articles under the assumption that you’ve seen the movie, so there is little summary and plenty of SPOILERS. (Although I find it impossible to believe that anyone could be upset by having Kung Pow spoiled for them.)

I’ve saved the dumbest for last. After revisiting Nothing to Lose, I decided to rewatch every Steve Oedekerk-directed movie I own, saving Kung Pow: Enter the Fist for last because it seemed to be most Oedekerk-y of the three. Oedekerk specialized in dumb comedy for a while, but has seemingly disappeared in the last few years. I can’t find any kind of recent update on him, and he has nothing in production listed on IMDb. I know this movie didn’t set the world on fire, and his animated film was a bit of a disappointment (and his short films featuring...thumbs didn’t seem to be meant for anyone’s amusement but his own), but I don’t understand why he’s not still working. Perhaps it was the changing popularity in comedy. Dumb comedy isn’t as welcome as it used to be. And let me be clear, I think dumb comedy is actually pretty damn smart. Anyone can make stupid noises and just copy other shit (I’m looking at you, Superhero Movie, Disaster Movie, etc.). It takes skill to be stupid and genuinely funny, and Oedekerk had that. Maybe it was all those not-even-really-parody Movies that put an end to Oedekerk’s style. Whatever it was, it’s been long enough. This guy deserves to be able to make a new dumb comedy every couple years, and Kung Pow is evidence that his stupidity knows no bounds.

If this is dumb comedy, what does it say about me that I still like it?

The main reason I’ve revisited Oedekerk’s movies is because I find comedy interesting in that your sense of humor probably changes the most over time. So I guess I use these movies within my collection to gauge how much my sense of humor has, or hasn’t, changed. The best way to check it is to watch something I consider to be very dumb, and see if it still makes me laugh. Which brings me to Kung Pow

I first watched this movie when it was released in theaters back in 2002. I liked it so much that I watched it twice. That’s right: I saw Kung Pow: Enter the Fist in the theater...twice. This particular type of dumb comedy (silly voices, intentionally bad dubbing, absurdity, fart jokes, 4th wall-breaking) was right up my alley. Watching it again, it still is. 

Parts of the movie don’t work for me (most of the CG is terrible and pointless, especially the cow), but they didn’t work for me the first time I watched it, either. I literally laughed out loud at some of this movie when I watched it the other day. I can’t stress enough how rare it is for me to be watching a movie, alone, that I’ve seen before, and laugh out loud multiple times. 

I’m glad Kung Pow still makes me laugh. It means I haven’t become a joyless asshole. Perhaps this will be my comedy barometer for the rest of my life.

We need Steve Oedekerk, now more than ever.

I like Kung Pow in particular because Oedekerk was clearly allowed to make as dumb of a movie as he wanted, and he went for it. I miss that devotion to stupidity. 

Stupid comedies still exist, but they are definitely more rare than they were 15-25 years ago. I’m sure it has more to do with profitability than taste, but I don’t see why someone like Oedekerk isn’t still working regularly. 

Also, Jim Carrey could use the work. It’s not that he’s suffering or anything, but his return to Dumb and Dumber was a misfire. If he truly wanted to recreate the comedic magic of his early career, then he needs to team back up with Oedekerk. They had a project they were both connected to listed on IMDb called Ricky Stanicky that actually sounded kind of interesting (a group of friends made up a person named Ricky Stanicky that they blamed everything on and have to hire Carrey to be him for real), but it’s been in development hell for years and is likely dead. 

And that’s too bad, because I would love to see what kind of stupid shit Carrey and Oedekerk could get up to these days. Until then, I’ll just have to keep going back to movies in my collection like Kung Pow and When Nature Calls. I’m all for R-rated and sophisticated comedies, but the high schooler in me (that apparently won’t die) still yearns for silly voices and farts. I hope that never changes.

Why do I own this?

I think I laid it out pretty clearly above, but I loved it years ago, which is why I originally bought it. And now I’m glad to have it to check up on my sense of humor from time to time.

Random Thoughts

This reminded me a lot of Bad Lip Reading. In fact, if Oedekerk had this idea today, it would probably just end up being a YouTube channel. I would subscribe to it.

There is an Oedekerk YouTube page, but I can’t tell if it’s run by him or a fan. And the most recent video was teasing something...thumb-related coming soon. No thanks.

I can't think of another DVD title screen that starts off by explaining the premise of the movie.

This is back in the good old days of DVD title screens that talk to you and shit. It was very annoying if you fell asleep watching the movie and the title screen started playing on a loop.

I still think Betty's voice is kind of funny.

This type of comedy is still right up my alley. I love when a movie uses an obvious dummy for action scenes (like the baby rolling down the hill at the beginning).

"He was raised by various rodents."

"I'm not a doctor, but it was like one clean chunk."

This is even dumber than I remember…

...but the horrible dubbing and repeating scenes are still pretty funny. 

"Your story makes my heart heavy and my prostate weak. My bladder is full to bursting."

"I must apologize for Wimp Lo. He is an idiot. We have purposely trained him wrong, as a joke."

"Prepare the long rubber glove."

The cow fight was too stupid.

There are plenty of Matrix gags that haven't aged well.

That Master Tang voice Oedekerk does sounds so much like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog that I checked to see if Robert Smigel did the voice. Oedekerk describes it as sounding like Edward James Olmos. I guess I hear it a bit.

"I'll kill him. I'll kill him dead. Hmm, like with...with a rock or something."

Even at 81 minutes, this feels pretty damn long.

Hooters and Taco Bell are both thanked at the end of the credits. I'm not surprised.