There have been many famous (and some infamous) comedic adaptations of otherwise serious movies—the 1987 classic Spaceballs comes to mind. But few parodies have so grievously stumbled over their source-material, or even spoofed a work so irrelevant and arbitrary, as the new effort from the comedy troupe behind Workaholics: Game Over, Man! Comprised of comics Blake Andersen, Adam Devine, and Anders Holmes, the Workaholics (referred to as the “Dew’d Crew”) spoof Bruce Willis’ Die Hard in a mishmash of sex, violence, and painfully irreverent pop-cultural references. Substituting actual humor for pitifully-languid dick-jokes, and a fleshed-out narrative for embarrassing rehashes of uninspired tropes, Game Over Man! proves a mediocrity that tailors toward the lowest common denominator: the pockets of a morally impoverished youth.
The trio work as housekeepers at an L.A. hotel, devising ideas for trendy video games and entrepreneurial schemes that reek of every adolescent’s millionaire fantasies. A private party held by Bey Awadi, the spoiled son of a Saudi-Arabian billionaire—famous for a sadistic Instagram showcasing the party-fiend’s ridiculously depraved exploits—provides a perfect opportunity to gain funding for an iPad app the crew is developing. But the night goes wrong when a terrorist organization takes Bey and his entourage hostage—it is up to the Dew’d Crew to save both their host as well as a declining friendship.
As the title suggests, Game Over, Man! attempts to fit itself into the template of a video game. Chiptune electronica cringingly clashes with flavor of the month trap music, while Alex (Devine) and crew used gamer-logic to “pick up weapons” and “climb the levels” that will lead them to the terrorists. Kill count is a currency (at one point Alex shouts enthusiastically “By the way, I get next kill!”). Angry men with guns are automatically deigned “bad-guys”. Unfortunately, Game Over conflates this elementary-school plotline with other unnecessary elements that never bloom into what they promise. The Die Hard parody is essential for only a few moments, such as when the terrorist team’s tech dude awkwardly comments “Well, you didn’t bring me along cause I look like the black nerd from Die Hard.”
Beyond just structural issues, Game Over lacks a coherent comedic direction. Villian dialogue is for the most part restricted to cheesy one-liners like “Party’s over!” and “I have a question: Do you want to die?” Any attempt at complexity, such as secret-ringleader Mr. Ahmad’s unconvincing inferiority complex, comes off as unfinished: the bad guy forces a stutter or bursts a temple for no apparent reason. Game Over’s lack of a self-imposed censorship or modesty renders the superfluous sex-jokes bland and unfunny. Autoerotic asphyxiation and condom-selfies become expected rather than shocking. The propensity for violence also teeters between sickening and boring. Whereas masterful slapstick clashes confidence with humiliating injury, Game Over thinks simple gore is a formula for laughter.
Perhaps the film’s greatest fault is the absolute lack of a single sympathetic or endearing character. Alex, Darren, and Joel are pressured to exert a constant inauthenticity that often hampers any audience investment. Alex undercuts his few efforts at sentiment or genuineness with a ludicrous baby-face and distorted squabbling. Darren’s addiction to salvia, which reduces him to an inarticulate and eye-rolling mess, is less amusing than it is sadly pathetic. Worst of all is the lack of a moral center. Whereas the antagonist represents the conservative approach to excess and money, Bey is a hedonistic bully without dimension or any semblance of an interior life. Yet we’re meant to relate to the factitial aspects of his wealth and trendiness to find his millennial pseudo-patriotism admirable: “I love America!” Bey exclaims. “I’m here to have fun—drink, pop molly. What’s more American than that?”
Game Over’s tendency to explicate the most paper-thin values and motivations through dispassionate speeches and contrived development reminds us that the movie, despite its profanity, was most likely not designed for anyone over the age of fourteen. Young kids will delight in the quotidian vulgarity and slew of cheap cultural references that may appear obscure or cool to the smartphone generation. From this perspective, we cannot actively hate the Workaholics troupe’s most recent Netflix pet project—though we can certainly throw it into the trash where it belongs.
Featured Image by Netflix