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Review: Let’s Go to Prison

The film is a comedy of tremendous miscalculation that doesn’t even have the conviction of its own stupidity.

Let’s Go to Prison
Photo: Universal Pictures

As grateful for his existence as we may be, one doesn’t need Borat to illustrate the massive wall of stupidity that has permeated American culture when you have movies such as Let’s Go to Prison that can do the job with equal—if not surpassing—efficiency. A comedy of tremendous miscalculation that doesn’t even have the conviction of its own stupidity, it suggests a sideshow troupe of has-beens for whom every audience member that doesn’t walk out is a major accomplishment. After serving three separate jail terms, 30-year-old loser John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard) vows revenge on the judge who doled out his sentences, only to learn of his death three days prior. Step in Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett), son of John’s arch nemesis and immediate inheritor of his pent-up frustrations (because that makes sense). John haphazardly orchestrates events that land them both in prison in hopes of making Nelson’s life a living hell; what follows is an inexorable volley of physical humor, racial jokes, rear-entry innuendos, and wannabe ironic contrasts that succeeds in doing just that to the audience (if the screening I attended is any indication, even the movie’s intended demographic—whoever the hell that may be—sat mostly stone-faced through this debacle). Let’s Go to Prison would feel like the kind of aimless comedy made by and for drunken frat boys were it not for a lack of creative input (both in front of and behind the camera) so staggering as to suggest that everyone involved only did so in order to knock out a few hours of mandatory community service. Despite layers of generically mood-setting music and pedantically snazzy scene transitions, nothing can mask how little confidence the cast holds for this material; even Chi McBride can barely muster the energy to hide his “only here for a paycheck” contempt. Ultimately, though, Let’s Go to Prison isn’t even ballsy enough to deserve being called offensive. More infuriating is its complete gutlessness, which threatens to kill off every single last suffering brain cell in the audience before eliciting a genuine response. If this kind of studio fare is what it takes to keep the economy going, then label me an economically subversive terrorist right now.

Cast: Dax Shepard, Will Arnett, Chi McBride, David Koechner, Dylan Baker, Michael Shannon, Miguel Nino, Jay Whittaker, Amy Hill, David Darlow, Nick Phalen, A.J. Balance Director: Bob Odenkirk Screenwriter: Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Michael Patrick Jann Distributor: Universal Pictures Running Time: 84 min Rating: R Year: 2006 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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