An unrepentantly C-grade adventure about a quartet of screw-ups who bumble into becoming Earth’s would-be protectors, Matt Hullum’s Lazer Team bestows high-tech alien weaponry on some of the lowest-wattage minds in rural Texas. A band-of-rejects plotline this threadbare requires copious yuks, or at least charisma, to succeed. But the script is as unexceptional as its heroes, skating by on more than its share of crotch humor and jokes that feel like placeholders for a second-draft punch-up. Seemingly made for video, and set to be one of the inaugural offerings of the YouTube Red subscription service in January, the pic will struggle to connect with fanboys who are hardly starved for content these days.
Decades ago, the U.S. government received a transmission from a benevolent alien race. “Conflict is coming,” it warned, before reassuring humans that our new extraterrestrial friends were sending help: a “suit of power” that would take many years to reach us — time enough to pick a genetically ideal infant and train him to wield its weapons.
Sci-fi comedy with retro vibe is far from laser-sharp.
But on the night that intergalactic package hits Earth’s atmosphere, it is intercepted by a washed-up sheriff (co-writer Burnie Burns) and three none-too-bright inhabitants of the small city he polices. Each puts on a piece of the armor, not realizing it will automatically fuse with the wearer’s body. Now the Army, and the suit’s intended wearer (Alan Ritchson), have four days to train these dolts to work together as if they were a single combat-hardened soldier. Good luck with that.
The ensuing whip-’em-into-shape ensemble sequences are generic and lowbrow enough to make the Broken Lizard crew look like a singular voice in American comedy. And where the picture’s vague nods toward ’80s multiplex aesthetics might have felt fresh-ish a few years ago, they’re flavorless in comparison to Turbo Kid‘s quirky pastiche. A few bright moments aside, these annoying characters don’t grow on us anywhere near as much as the filmmakers expect them to, and the shoestring-budget FX work, which would be more than good enough in a film buoyed by some wit, just underlines the movie’s pedestrian qualities.
Production company: Rooster Teeth Productions
Cast: Burnie Burns, Gavin Free, Michael Jones, Colton Dunn, Allie DeBerry, Alan Ritchson
Director: Matt Hullum
Screenwriters: Burnie Burns, Chris Demarais, Joshua Flanagan, Matt Hullum
Producers: Burnie Burns, Doreen Copeland, Matt Hullum
Executive producers: Ezra Cooperstein, George Strompolos
Director of photography: Philip Roy
Production designer: Marcus LaPorte
Costume designer: Tiffany Barry
Editors: Chris Demarais, Joshua Flanagan, Aaron Marquis, David James Ward
Music: Jeff Williams
Casting directors: Brad Burton, Lindsey Weissmueller, Kimberly Williams Burton
No rating, 103 minutes