Friday, December 4, 2009
If I do one good deed this week let it be stopping you from seeing “The Strip” (opening December 4 at Landmark’s Hillcrest Cinemas). But apparently no one informed the cast about how bad the film is so actors Dave Foley and Federico Dordei who will appear in person with producer Jay Khan on Saturday, December 5 at 7:40pm.
“The Strip” is set in a low-end electronics store in a Chicago strip mall. Hence the film’s title. Glenn (Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley) is the hapless store manager facing a down turning economy. He tries to inspire his employees with team-building exercises but it doesn’t seem to help much. Using “The Forty-Year-Old Virgin” and “The Office” as a kind of template, “The Strip” tries to people the store with a lovable crew of goofballs. So we get Avi (Federico Dordei) preparing for his arranged marriage to a girl with a good resume; wannabe actor Rick (Cory Christmas); and the somewhat homeless Jeff (Billy Aaron Brown) who lives in his van until he moves in with Glenn and his wife. Meanwhile Kyle (Rodney Scott) is being groomed by his dad to take over the electronics empire.
Written and directed by Jameel Khan, “The Strip” is a painfully unfunny comedy about boring jobs, workplace pranks, relationships, and pursuing your dreams. A key factor in comedy is timing. Knowing how to pace the jokes so the punch lines play well, and every set up pays off. But Khan has absolutely no sense of comic timing. Gags are set up slowly and played out with a lethargy that kills any humor. Plus we don’t care about any of the characters and are never won over by their calculated “quirkiness.”
I can’t remember another recent comedy that was so agonizing to sit through or that had me continually checking my watch because I kept thinking it can’t possibly go on for much longer. I try not to judge a film by its trailer but when I saw the trailer for “The Strip” it struck me as so bad that it almost scared me away from seeing the film. But since Dave Foley was in it, I was willing to give it a chance. But this is one time that a trailer was completely accurate in preparing me for the full film.
Not even Foley’s dry comic skills can redeem any part of this mess. It doesn’t help that the script fails to build much of a narrative and instead tends to work through short blackout skits interspersed with vague attempts as developing the characters and their assorted life crises.
“The Strip” (rated PG-13 for sexual references) is so miscalculated and off the mark that I feel embarrassed for the actors coming down to the Saturday screening.
Companion viewing: “The Forty-Year-Old Virgin,” “The Office (British),” “Office Space”