Judge Patrick Naugle concludes that someone must have a strange idea of what's funny.
Our review of Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete First Season, published January 5th, 2011, is also available.
Get into our shorts.
Welcome to Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season, where insanity runs amuck care of your boob tube. This season will bring out the very best—or worst, depending on how you look at it—of Ed Halligan (Steve Tom) and his FOD Network. SEE ladies as referees! WITNESS Jeff Baker: Junior College Professor! SHUDDER at the antics of the United States Police Department! You will laugh…or die trying.
HBO's Funny or Die Presents is based on the far funnier website started by comedy superstar Will Ferrell (Land of the Lost), director Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), and writer Chris Henchy (The Other Guys, AKA Mr. Brooke Shields). There isn't much of a storyline, per se; this is basically a compilation of short videos made by various filmmakers and starring people you definitely recognize, people you kind of recognize, and people you have never before seen in your life. The videos span everything from a minute-long moment of Batman: The Movie's Adam West being a sleaze to the audience ("Why don't you come have a seat on my lap and we'll talk about the first thing that pops up!") to supposed reenactments of real-life discussions heard in the ladies' rooms of Hollywood. Actors like Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph), Kirsten Wiig (Bridesmaids), Bill Hader (Superbad), Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live), Fred Willard (Waiting for Guffman), and Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) pop up once in a while, but their skits are usually short and their screen time very limited.
For a show that has the word "funny" in its title, Funny or Die Presents is dismayingly unfunny. I sat with my wife, and we watched one full episode together (then she left the room) in what can almost be described as "abysmal dread." Almost every sketch had us glancing at each other, a look in our eyes that conveyed, "This is what they're passing off as humor?" As each skit rolled by like molasses and landed with a thud, I slowly realized I was in for a long, dreary haul with Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season, making me glad that I had never had the displeasure of sitting through the first season.
The format is that each episode is "supposedly" playing on a faux network called FOD ("Funny or Die," natch). The show is hosted by the fictional Ed Halligan (Steve Tom, The West Wing), who is a cross between your grumpy uncle and a sharp-tongued Newt Gingrich. Apparently he's supposed to be funny because he looks like an astute, upper-crust CEO, but he swears constantly (har-har). None of these bookend shorts with Halligan are even remotely amusing. Most of the sketches are non-sequitur style oddities that are sometimes mildly amusing ("Juggalo News," a CNN-style news network for fans of the rap/rock/metal music group Insane Clown Posse) to the woefully unfunny ("Tijuana Jackson: Life Coach" features a guy who is a life coach who doesn't have his own life together).
I'm not going to pretend that I didn't laugh at all during Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season; one of my favorite moments involved new age guru Deepak Chopra—babbling on about the existential nature of man and his place in the universe—being shown a dead body by a clearly too-excited comedian Rob Huebel (What to Expect When You're Expecting), who found it on the beach (it's funnier than it sounds). Another short titled "United States Police Department"—clearly a parody of Law and Order—featured a storyline about a secret ring of doctors who steal people's anuses (yes, those kinds of anuses). Once in a while, I did crack a smile, but these moments were few and far between wrapped around other lackluster skits that seemed like subpar Saturday Night Live rejects.
I've visited the Funny or Die website many times and found some of the videos really amusing, far more than I found in Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season. Considering this season runs 300 minutes long, the amount of times I laughed was woefully disproportionate to its runtime. Maybe the makers of Funny or Die Presents should spend more time focusing on the internet than on cable television.
Each episode of Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfers here are all good, but nothing spectacular; the short films were made to parody various mediums, so they often have a rushed and rough feel to them. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround in English and French. Much like the video, the audio mixes are acceptable but unremarkable; a few scattered surround sounds can be heard, mostly with music cues. Also included are French, Spanish, and English subtitles. No extra features are included on this two-disc set.
If my choices are funny or die, it looks like I'd better start making out my
will ASAP. Guilty.
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