by David Cornelius
There is a glorious stupidity about the title “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.” Here we have a movie nobody bothered to properly name, and so we get this awkward combination of stage name and premise that tells audiences who’s in it and what he’ll be playing, slapped together with zero effort, as if the producers assumed fans of the titular stand-up comic would be unable to figure out which movie belonged to their favorite funnyman and what kind of story it might involve if it was granted some complex title along the lines of “Ernest Goes To Africa.”Of course, the real (unintentional) comedy comes from a juxtaposition of careers that make no sense even when taken in context of the movie. They might as well have called it “Jeff the Auto Mechanic: Hot Dog Vendor” or “Dave the Movie Critic: Test Pilot.”
"Beyond bad - it holds a special kind of terribleness all to itself."
Larry the Cable Guy, for those fortunate souls unfamiliar with his particular brand of fart jokes, is the stage name of Dan Whitney, some schmuck from Florida who discovered that his floundering comedy career could be rescued by pretending to be a functionally retarded redneck and delivering an act that replaces actual punchlines with asinine catchphrases such as “Git-R-Done” (which turns out to not, in fact, be some code for date rape) and “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny” (which is another way of saying “It’s not funny, but if I tell you it is, will you please, please believe me?”). His act was tiresome before it ever got going, the stand-up equivalent of a Ray Stevens novelty song, yet for some reason his brand of my-sister’s-so-fat and foreigners-sure-talk-funny yuks have led him to become one of the most popular stand-up acts around. Following successful merchandise sales, a popular stint on the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” and its ensuing movies, and a gig on Comedy Central’s “Blue Collar TV,” a movie deal was inevitable. Remember, they gave Carrot Top a movie, too.
Larry (the movie character, not the performer) has no last name in this film - he’s just Larry. I mention this because - and I swear I am not exaggerating here - about every five minutes, we get a line in which Larry reminds us that his name is Larry. Sometimes he doesn’t even bother with subtleties, merely shouting out “Hey, I’m Larry!” And occasionally adding “I’m the health inspector!” There is a point, after about fifteen random mentions of his name, where this becomes the funniest thing on the planet (unintentional-wise, that is). Because seriously, how dumb does a movie have to be before they just start announcing the title character’s name over and over? Pretty freaking dumb, it turns out.
Larry, for those who might have missed the title, is a health inspector. The comedy, then, is that he is a slovenly oaf who farts all the time. (And by “all the time,” I do mean all the time. If he’s not telling us his name, he’s farting. Always.) Our first shot of Larry is that of his butt crack. So, yes, he’s a gross, disgusting, vile man, but he’s also in charge of inspecting restaurants for health code violations. Boy, ain’t that ironic?
This, dear friends, is the freshest idea in this movie’s brain. Larry has a long-suffering boss (Tom Wilson) who’s so fed up with Larry’s casual ways that he assigns him an uptight partner named Butlin (Iris Bahr), who’s all by-the-book and stuff. There’s a string of food poisonings happening at all the city’s top restaurants, and just when Larry and his new uptight partner have the case cracked, they insult the mayor and Larry gets kicked off the force but manages to save the day anyway, right there on live TV, too. This is what happens when you ask somebody to write a Larry the Cable Guy movie, and please have it done by tomorrow night.
By the way, when we say Larry has a partner, Larry really, really, really wants you to know that “partner” means “business partner” and “not gay partner.” Those last three words are Larry’s own - you see, the partner is flat-chested, so Larry thinks she’s a he. Which is hilarious if you love making fun of them queers. Most of the rampant homophobia found here pretends to be not-so-serious teasy, so when the anti-prejudice folks speak up, Larry can say it was all in good fun. (Example: “Don’t you have a gay pride parade to get to? I’m just kiddin’. I know you ain’t a flipper.” The hell?) But sometimes the film will just let loose with a real make-you-wince gag, like when Larry and Butlin walk under a restaurant sign which has been redone to read, simply, “Butlin is a fag.”
As if homophobic punchlines weren’t enough, the film occasionally spices them up with outdated pop culture references. These aren’t just annoying fag jokes; they’re badly written annoying fag jokes. Consider: “Looks like a casting call for ‘Zorro the Gay Blade!’” Also: “You’re more fired up than Rosie O’Donnell at the titty bar!” Yeesh. Maybe “Git-R-Done” has less to do with date rape and more to do with violent hate crimes.
Not so we think Larry only hates gay people, we also get a scene in which he disguises himself as one of them A-rabs we’ve heard so much about on the teevee. The accent alone is worth a solid punch in the face and a lengthy speech explaining himself to any anti-defamation league; the topper is the plaid tablecloth he actually uses for a ghutra an iqal.
When not offending the sensibilities of minorities, “Health Inspector” is offending the sensibilities of anybody who just wants to go through the day without seeing an entire sequence involving diarrhea or hearing one-liners so awful they make one long for the merciful escape of sweet, sweet death. Here, now, are just a few more verbal treats you can enjoy, courtesy of screenwriters Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, plus Whitney himself, who provided countless uncredited punch-ups:
“You ever fart so hard your back cracked?”
“I’m so hungry I could eat the butthole out of a skunk.”
“I love sassy fat chicks!”
That last one, for reasons far too unbearable to repeat here, is part of a subplot in which Larry falls in love with a cute waitress (Megyn Price), because since the movie wasn’t disturbing enough, we now have to watch as Larry’s disease-ridden, chaw-encrusted mouth violates the very lovely Price, who deserves so much more than to be stuck in some gawdawful Larry the Cable Guy movie.
The same, of course, can be said for any unfortunate soul who managed to get cast in this heap. The list also includes Joe Pantoliano, David Koechner, Joanna Cassidy, Tony Hale, and Lisa Lampanelli. Only Kid Rock, who is to music what Larry the Cable Guy is to humor, deserves the dismal fate of being stuck here.
So yes, “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” is indeed as horrible, unfunny, offensive, badly made, and downright unwatchable as you thought it would be. You might even say it’s even worse that you thought it would be. It’s not a movie; it’s a cause for dismay. If you make it all the way to the end - an end which (and oh, how this saddens me on so many levels) Larry actually looks right into the camera and yells “Git-R-Done!!!” - you will have endured a cinematic trial-by-fire the likes of which have not been experienced since Tom Green stopped making movies.Please, Mr. The Cable Guy, stop getting R done. Because we as a nation really can’t handle the possible existence of, say, “Larry the Cable Guy: Crime Scene Investigator.”
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14181&reviewer=392
originally posted: 08/01/06 06:13:21