E1 Entertainment // 2008 // 218 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // March 10th, 2010
"That's how you make crystal meth." -- Trevor Moore, singing a children's song
Having seen the 2009 "comedy" Miss March -- not only one of the worst films of last year, but one of the worst, most hateful films I've ever seen -- I didn't have much faith in the sketch comedy group The Whitest Kids U'Know. Its two founding members, the lanky, spastic Trevor Moore and the frat-boy-handsome Zach Cregger, were not only the two stars of Miss March but also its writers and co-directors. And if that pair used the money and resources made available to them by Fox to create Miss March as their introduction to the mainstream, what would the chances be that The Whitest Kids U'Know, their cult favorite IFC sketch comedy series, would be any good?
The answer? It's better than Miss March. I recognize that's not saying much -- my parents' divorce was less painful -- but watching the recently-released DVD of The Whitest Kids U'Know: The Complete Second Season, I was surprised to find that I didn't hate it. Yes, it's cheap and indulgent and too impressed with its own crude immaturity and grossness, but every once in a while there would be an inspired sketch or joke that would carry me through the rough patches. I laughed enough watching the collection to not consider a complete wasted of time.
If there's an overriding problem with The Whitest Kids U'Know, it isn't that it's hit-and-miss -- it's that it misses considerably more than it hits. All sketch comedy is going to be uneven; that's the nature of the format. But The Whitest Kids -- made up of Moore, Cregger, Sam Brown, Darren Trumeter, and Timmy Williams, who perform all the roles including the females -- have a tendency to embrace their worst instincts too often. That means childish gross-out and scatological humor that often masquerades as "edginess," and sketches which extend way beyond their shelf life. Sometimes, pushing a joke past its breaking point works: a piece involving mountain climbing, nude photography and a diamond thief goes on and on until its absurdity becomes funny. Unfortunately, the Kids are too self-indulgent to know when to quit, and the same sketch continues on for nearly double the length (it literally takes a detour into Hell) and what once made it work is lost. Still, there are those flashes where the show is working which help keep it watchable throughout all 10 episodes -- even when a sketch isn't funny, you know there will be another one soon, providing a blank slate every couple of minutes. And I'll give this to The Whitest Kids U'Know: they have a clear and consistent comic voice that's entirely their own. Even if I didn't always respond to that voice, it's an achievement that shouldn't be dismissed too easily.
Now, of course, there are those will say that I'm way off base and that The Whitest Kids U'Know are doing the edgiest, most subversive and funniest sketch comedy around today. Doesn't make me wrong. Like the late, great Gene Siskel used to say, you cannot convince another person of what is sexy and what is funny, and if watching an entire season didn't convince me that they're the best thing going in sketch comedy right now, no amount of whining is likely to change my mind. I'm a big believer that there's comedy out there for everyone; just because The Whitest Kids U'Know isn't for me doesn't mean it's not for you. On the other hand, if you're someone who has read my reviews with any kind regularity and find yourself agreeing with me more often than not, you may want to consider taking my word for it. That is, after all, the function of the critic.
What were we talking about?
Right. The Whitest Kids U'Know: The Complete Second Season comes to DVD courtesy of E1 (labeled as "Uncut and Uncensored," but the show runs on IFC, so how censored can it really be? This is the channel that shows Bad Lieutenant every other night) in a disappointing two-disc package. For starters, two discs are wholly unnecessary; there are only 10 episodes running about 20-21 minutes apiece. There's no reason they couldn't fit on a single disc. What's worse it that the 1.85:1 transfer isn't anamorphic. It's 2010, and that's not really acceptable any more. The future is now, guys. If I have to watch The Whitest Kids U'Know at all, I'd rather not do it through a small little window box in the big ass TV. That's why there's the big ass TV. The Dolby 2.0 stereo audio track is fine but mixed a little low and muddy; I found myself turning on the subtitles just to be sure I wasn't missing anything.
Commentary tracks from the "Kids" have been included on all 10 of the episodes. They're busy and jokey and a little self-satisfied, not dealing much with actual production information. However, if you're a fan of the group and their brand of humor, chances are you'll have a good time with the commentaries. No one else should bother. Plus, the original show audio is still rather pronounced in the mix during the commentaries, so it all just kind of blends together and makes the commentaries downright unlistenable. Additionally, there's a "sneak peek" at Season Three and a nearly half-hour collection of pieces from the Kids' first season on Fuse when they were edited for content, called "The Best of Season One." Each of those sketches comes with an introduction from the Kids. If you enjoy their comedy, there's no reason you won't enjoy these, too.
Uneven sketch comedy gets a problematic DVD release. I'll have to call it guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 218 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Season 3 Preview