Reviewing comedies is cake, man. Watch the movie. Ask yourself one question: Did it make me laugh? If the answer is yes, write a nice review about how it made you laugh. Writing a comedy movie, on the other hand is particularly difficult because gauging the public’s sense of humor is fucking impossible. Tastes shift wildly from generation to generation. What works from month to month is hard to find and who are you trying to appeal to? Appealing to the widest demographic possible is like catching rain with a net. Lucky for writer/director Robert Phelps he fell back on one hundred minutes of jokes that easily categorize themselves as “old faithful”. Dicks, farts, poop, nutshots, tits, and the word fuck. All of them, confined herein for one self-contained indie comedy that was specifically designed to occupy any given frat boy’s DVD shelf.
Don’t let my flowery vernacular fool you, though. I love a good nutshot as much as the next guy and even though I tend to sell myself as some kind of dollar-store intellectual, I’m certainly not above a comedy whose central conceit is boners. Also, I’m not sure if you’re aware of what’s going on up in Detroit these days, but if you think the recession has hit your wallet hard, you don’t know shit. Things are so bad in Detroit right now that you can buy a house for five grand. Entire neighborhoods look like the set of a movie about the rapture. Miles upon miles of housing developments are empty. It’s a god damn ghost town and just the like SNL writers who used to work hometown, New York City pride into their scripts, Phelps is here to pat his hometown on the back and buy it a beer with a low budget comedy that at the very least is looking to help Detroit smile a little in these desperate times.
Todd (played by director and writer, Phelps) has lived in Detroit his whole life, goofing off with the same cast of retards since grade school. He keeps his nose clean, works hard, lives a typical blue collar existence and parties his ass off at the end of the day. Todd is also reaching that point in his life where he’s creeping out of his 20’s and into a place where he needs to start thinking about the future. His creepy crypto-gay boss, however, gives him an opportunity that may be the kick out the door that he needs in the form of a great promotion that requires him to move to Georgia. Meanwhile, Todd’s hard partying friend Wojo struggles with an unstoppable compulsion to fuck ugly women every time he goes out drinking. Justin Rose (played by 30 Rock/SNL regular John Lutz) struggles with his shitty office job and the anxiety he gets when dealing with the new girl at the office. On a wild lark, Scott, a janitor, has managed to convince high Detroit society types that he is a doctor and spends a couple of evenings drinking expensive booze and making plans to fuck a spoiled socialite. It all culminates in a crazy halloween party where Todd must make the decision to leave for greener pastures and an opportunity that he knows will change his life for the better or stay in Detroit with his friends and his girl played by Susan Misner (Recue Me, Fringe, Gossip Girl).
Ask yourself a question. Do I like one or more of the following movies: Caddyshack, Clerks, Mallrats, American Pie (plus sequels), Old School, Road Trip, Animal House, Office Space? If you answered no to any of those, there is no hope for you but if you answered yes, then you’ll find something to like in Stick It In Detroit. It’s as scatological as scatology gets but it has a heart. It’s also a movie about a man stuffing a large piece of shit in his pocket.So there’s always that if the life lessons fly right over your head.
Stick It In Detroit is a pretty low budget movie. This is an undeniable fact, but it does a whole hell of a lot with what money it does have and is supported by a script that is, for the most part, a solid comedy ripe for endless rotation on late night FX or Spike broadcasts. It may not be perfect and often times comes across as though someone took a model kit containing the separate pieces of a good comedy and threw them on the floor without putting them together but Stick It In Detroit hits as much as it misses. A little more tuning in post could have tightened this feature up substantially, but this is the end product. Each of the characters featured in the core of the story are supposed to be a tight unit yet some of them never occupy the same scene together and their particular stories such as Scott the janitor feels like an entirely separate movie unto itself, vaguely related to the main plot. Almost as though a DVD extra was somehow tied into the rest of the feature.
The cast is mostly solid, as well. Phelps is a little wooden but he’s also wearing many hats on the production and it’s clear that of everyone in the cast, he’s the one with the best understanding of the script. Aside from sidebar character Hot Rod, Stick It In Detroit’s answer to Jay of the Kevin Smith Jersey movies, John Lutz’s Justin Rose is probably the funniest character in the movie. He’s a seasoned comic having written SNL and 30 Rock both of which walk a thin line between sophisticated humor and fart jokes, so it doesn’t seem that outrageous that he’d star in a movie that puts him in a key scene as he doggedly does his best to unclog an overflowing toilet by manually removing a gigantic turd and shoving it in his pocket. It’s not without its flaws, though. A lot of Detroit’s gags fall absolutely flat and there is nothing more agonizing than watching a comedy milk a bad joke without realizing that no one is laughing. To its merit, some of these jokes are so bad that they flip back around into good territory but for all the wrong reasons. I’m looking at you, Wojo/ET spoof scene.
It’s far from perfect and suffers from a lot of the problems that dog a low budget movie but Phelps is on to something. With a bigger budget and a tighter script he could easily infiltrate Hollywood comedy circles but as it stands, Stick It Detroit is a flawed comedy that reaches to wear the finer qualities of a National Lampoon’s title. To get there it uses every blue comedy technique that it can muster. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but when it’s on, it’s on. Stick It In Detroit is a love letter to every movie you ever capped off a night of heavy drinking with.