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Case Number 13844

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Witless Protection

Lionsgate // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 16th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson would like protection from affronts to civilization like this putrid comedy.

The Charge

Protecting America's assets.

Opening Statement

Larry the Cable Guy continues his rise to the stratosphere of the cinematic elite with this, his latest fart joke tour de force.

Facts of the Case

Larry (as in "the Cable Guy") is a deputy in a backwoods town with visions of becoming an FBI agent one day. He spots a golden opportunity to prove his worth when a black Suburban rolls through town with a beautiful woman in the back, seemingly held against her will. Despite the warnings of his friends and his girlfriend (Jenny McCarthy), he inserts himself into a volatile situation, grabbing the girl and taking off.

Turns out he's landed in the middle of a major conspiracy that runs all the way to the top. Larry will be forced to use his unique brand of crimefighting and investigative process (i.e., making crude remarks about his balls) to bring down the syndicate.

The Evidence

When I was a senior in college, I had a job as Program Director for a summer camp in Central Maine. It was a sweet gig and I was having a blast. The kids seemed to like me, I didn't have any grumbling staff and I got along well with my superiors. It was turning out to be a great summer and I was constantly challenging myself to come up with more creative ways to entertain the campers.

One day I had what I thought was a particularly genius brainstorm and looked for an opportunity to give it a whirl. That opportunity presented itself when four cabins of the oldest girls (10-11 year-olds) heads up to the tent site to camp out for the evening. (Each cabin gets the pleasure of communing with nature on a weeknight and, needless to say, it rarely proved to be a favorite time for both the counselors and the kids—my theory was it was designed just to give the Nature Director something to do other than failing to start campfires.)

So that night my Program Assistant and I sojourned up to the campsites (it was only like a five minute walk), our plan at the ready to craft one of the most memorable camp experiences ever.

As we approached the site, my assistant peeled off and went into the woods, holding only a flashlight and one of those horse-head-on-a-stick toys. With the campfire in sight, I announced my presence—surprising the counselors—and asking if I could have a moment to tell a story. The counselors agreed, no doubt trusting that I had something fun up my sleeve as it was the reputation I had worked hard to build during that summer.

With about 40 girls and four counselors gathered around the fire, I began…

"Did you know that, years ago, this camp wasn't a camp at all, but a horse ranch? It was, and a successful one for years. One day, tragedy struck, when one of the ranch hands—a cowboy if you will—trotted out into these very woods and never returned. The ranch never rebounded from the scandalous disappearance, and the property was eventually sold and turned into a summer camp. Things were going well at the camp, and it turned out to be a popular attraction for kids all over the region. However, on the tenth anniversary of the ranch worker's vanishing, a group of counselors were walking in the woods at night, when off in the distance, they heard the faint sound of galloping, followed by a piercing scream. Only one counselor made it out of the woods to tell the story. Ten years from that very night two counselors went into the woods, seeking adventure and they too heard galloping followed by a piercing scream and again only one returned. Ten years later the same thing. And ten years after that. Amazingly, the camp was able to survive these misfortunes as no one was willing to admit to the likelihood of a malicious cowboy specter terrorizing the forest."

The night was dead quiet at this point, with only the snapping fire making a sound. The girls were transfixed. I continued with my tale.

"Me, I don't believe in ghosts or anything, but for what it's worth, it's been exactly ten years to the day of the last disappearance. But I wouldn't worry, I'm sure—"

And at that moment, my assistant came running out of the woods, wearing a cowboy hat, riding on that horse, a flashlight in his face, uttering an ungodly howl. Scream broke out and the two of us ran back to camp, ecstatic over our brilliance.

While we were telling fellow staff members about the prank and congratulating each other over our slyness, one of the counselors from the campsite came walking toward us—with a suspiciously forceful gait—and as she drew further we noticed she was not sharing in our glee. Quite the opposite really. Still ten paces away, she laid into us, chastising us with venom usually reserved for dictators who have found out their subordinates have been selling intel to the CIA.

"You need to get back up there! Now!" she screamed. And she continued in that abrasive tone the entire, long walk back. As we came within eyeshot of the site, we were met with howling and screaming and crying, the likes of which I have never heard. And the girls' faces came into view, tear-streak, red-eyed, traumatized faces, wailing into the night, gnashing their teeth. They circled us, clawing at us, shrieking at us, the echoes of their misery drowning out our feeble apologies. It was like that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, when the emaciated Indian villagers swarmed Indy and reached out with desperate cries. I felt just as helpless.

Thirty minutes later, my assistant and I were sitting in the camp truck, dumbfounded and empty.

"I feel three inches tall," he said to no one.

Eventually we made it up to the girls by allowing them to throw water balloons at our head and toilet paper my car, but that night remains one of the most distraught of my life and as miserable and godforsaken as that night was, it was a much funnier experience than Witless Protection.

This movie is not remotely funny, laden with sophomoric jokes, toilet humor, lame, obvious setups, a plot that makes zero sense, offensive stereotype gags (I'm all for anti-PC comedy and all, but there has to be some wit to it and the anti-Bush, anti-Islam crap here was amateurish) and more C-list celebrities phoning it in for a paycheck than an E! original series.

The most recent Larry the Cable Guy excursion I had the pleasure of reviewing was Delta Farce, another not-funny-in-the-least, low-scoring affair that devoured more brain cells than I'm comfortable admitting. This is what I wrote about that sorry experience:

Look, I'm as far from a pretentious film reviewer tool as you'll find, and I actually think Larry the Cable Guy is a pretty funny guy, but the only thing redeeming about this release is its disc case. As in, it's a perfectly functioning disc case, so after you place-kick the DVD into freeway traffic and burn the jacket for heat, you can put something more useful into it, like a Fruit Rollup or a blank CD-R.

That applies here. I actually laugh at Larry the Cable Guy's stand-up, think he's actually a pretty funny cat and wholly acknowledge the guy has a devoted fan base. And I won't label those fans as tasteless idiots. However, if you're a fan of his big-screen features and, in particular, this claptrap, then, alas you might be a tasteless idiot. I know that sounds caustic and degrading, but I'm just trying to look out for you guys. If you confess that you enjoy Witless Protection I fear that it will do irreparable damage to your good name and you may die bitter and alone.

Friend, resist the urge! Buy tickets to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Check out Larry's stand-up DVDs. That's all fine and good. But the guy happens to be in the some of the most god-awful comedies of the modern age and that, I submit, is inarguable.

The most positive comments I can summon up for this pathetic release is that the widescreen transfer (1.78:1) looks fine and the 5.1 EX surround mix is a good one. Lions Gate tends to deliver on the technical merits for its "big-name" releases. Extras are forgettable, though, with a making-of segment featuring the cast deluding themselves into thinking that this movie is worth the round plastic it was stamped on, a bit on Larry's analogies and a featurette on the film's music.

Closing Statement

Protect your reputation. Stay away from this crap.

The Verdict

Do us a favor and take a bullet.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 90
Extras: 75
Acting: 30
Story: 40
Judgment: 35

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Bad
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Behind the Scenes
• Featurettes

Accomplices

• IMDb








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