Judge Erich Asperschlager was an Oscar Meyer Wiener once. It wasn't as great as you'd think.
With a name like Wieners, how bad could it be? Let me tell you.
In the proud tradition of both gross-out comedies and straight-to-DVD releases, director Mark Steilen's Wieners tells the story of Joel (Fran Kranz), Ben (Zachary Levi), and Wyatt (Kenan Thompson), three buddies who travel cross-country in a custom painted wiener van to hand out free hot dogs and beat up Dr. Dwayne (Darrell Hammond), the daytime talk show host who encouraged Joel's girlfriend to leave him. Along the way they have a series of encounters that range from dumb to disgusting, with characters that include a finger-sucking cowboy, sex-charged retirees, a flippered sideshow performer, their once-hot sixth grade teacher (Jenny McCarthy), and a rival trio of tree-huggers driving a tofu truck.
The description I just gave you, coupled with the fact that this movie never got a theatrical release, should tell you all you need to know about Wieners. Heck, the title should be enough.
Wieners's biggest problem is that it feels like it's following what a marketing group thinks the formula for a modern roadtrip "comedy" should be. Running out of gas scene? Check. Random stuff that doesn't make any sense? Check. Way-too-obvious sexual innuendo? Check. Fart jokes, bodily fluid jokes, gay jokes, disability jokes, animal abuse, foul-mouthed children, stereotypes, and blooper reel credits? Check. Check. Check. Check…You get the idea. The only thing missing, in fact, are actual jokes. Let me qualify that: the only thing missing are jokes that people old enough to be watching an R-rated movie might find funny.
I have nothing against gross-out comedies. They can be transcendently cringe-inducing in the right hands. But it takes someone like the Farrelly brothers to do it well. It takes taste to be tasteless. Just because you can make a stained underwear joke doesn't mean you should make a stained underwear joke.
Perhaps the only thing going for Wieners is its relatively well-known cast, which most notably includes Darrell Hammond and Kenan Thompson (both of SNL), Zachary Levi (Chuck, from Chuck), and Jenny McCarthy (from various inappropriate adolescent fantasies). Let's get this one out of the way first: Jenny McCarthy might be plastered all over the cover, but she's barely in the movie. There have certainly been more egregious cases of mostly absent celebrities being used to sell a crappy movie, but given how awful McCarthy's scene is, seeing less of her wouldn't have been a bad thing. Speaking of seeing less, I can imagine a certain percentage of rentals will be based on the promise of R-rated nudity. Sorry, pervs. Besides a couple quick topless shots of random women, the most skin shown in Wieners comes during an all-male Hot Bod competition.
You might argue this is supposed to be a star vehicle for Kenan Thompson, who's been playing similar characters since at least the '90s kiddie sketch show All That. He does what he can as sassy hot dog enthusiast Wyatt, but it's a losing battle. I might blame him for joining the cast, but I can't blame him for wrecking the movie.
What about Darrell Hammond, one of SNL's most versatile impressionists and a genuinely funny guy? What's he doing in a movie like this (or, for that matter, Epic Movie, or Scary Movie 3)? To quote Dr. Dwayne: "I'm gettin' paid, y'all."
The most out of place cast member has to be Zachary Levi, who made a name for himself this past year as the lead on NBC's spy-comedy Chuck. I have no idea when, during the Chuck process, he decided to take part in this trainwreck, but he should be glad Sony didn't think he's a big enough star to tout on the box.
As far as presentation goes, the anamorphic transfer looks fine (not counting film content), and the surround mix pumps out every mishmashed note of the soulless pop-rock soundtrack.
The best thing I can say about this DVD is that they decided not to subject the audience to bonus features. I'm guessing that extra room went to all the language and subtitle tracks. Besides the more standard English, French, and Spanish options, you can also watch the movie in Thai, Portuguese, or Chinese (subtitles only). And people wonder why the rest of the world hates us.
Unless you really, really like hot dogs and emotional trauma, give Wieners a pass. It's as stale as week-old hot dog buns, and that joke was better than anything in the movie.
Guilty! So very, very guilty…
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