Onion Movie, The (DVD Reviews)1 Jun, 2008 By: John Latchem
Stars Len Cariou, Larissa Laskin, Scott Klace, Sarah McElligott.
This just in … The Onion Movie is crude, obscene, ironic, a little blasphemous and wholeheartedly politically incorrect. If none of that offends you, it’s also pretty funny.
This isn’t the kind of movie that tries for critical acclaim. Halfway through, the movie even takes the time to review itself, with two critics debating whether it is a brilliant skewering of contemporary social mores or if the film simply used the prospect of satire to present vulgar, lowdown humor that panders to the lowest common denominator. When a black activist shows up to complain about racist stereotypes in the film, the movie panders to him, too.
The film is inspired by the satirical The Onion, a newspaper and Web site that presents its avid readers with a trove of comedic fake news, billed as “America’s Finest News Source.”
The story, such as it is, involves a broadcast of “The Onion Nightly News With Norm Archer,” complete with fake commercials. The humor focuses more on social attitudes and shies away from hard-hitting political satire like the variety seen in the superior “The Daily Show.”
However, the movie soon deviates from its formula and starts offering random sketches, loosely connecting them to the next scene or back to a news report.
The news show itself is thus treated as just an extended sketch and turns into a parody of Network, as veteran news anchor Norm Archer (Cariou) objects to corporate meddling in the broadcast. Two fresh-faced execs want to use the news to promote a faux Steven Seagal movie called Cockpuncher (featuring the real Seagal in the first of many celebrity cameos).
Eventually the sketches drag on too long after making their point, much like the movie as a whole. The structure is too inconsistent to be considered a real film, but that shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of isolated scenes.
Also a mystery is why the movie doesn’t include more sketches in the mold of some of the fake news video clips available at TheOnion.com.
The DVD is light on extras, save for a few deleted scenes. Some of these contain aborted punchlines to sketches that are in the movie and probably could have been left in. It’s too bad there isn’t a commentary to explain why they were taken out.