Larry the Cable Guy wants you to be intimately familiar with his bodily functions. He likes to pass gas and provide commentary on its potency, and he is not afraid to let you know, in colorful euphemisms, how badly he needs to use the restroom. What a delightful scamp this Larry the Cable Guy is! What a refreshingly honest, hard-working, “salt of the earth” type! How I hate him!
I had only seen snippets of Nebraska-born comedian Dan Whitney’s redneck character Larry the Cable Guy before his feature film, but what I saw was broad and simple-minded. (He’s the one who makes easily amused people laugh by saying, “Get-R-Done!”) His film debut, “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector,” is 89 minutes of jokes centered mostly around the butt. Mr. The Cable Guy — playing himself, except he’s a health inspector instead of a cable guy — can barely go 10 seconds without referencing his butt, the butts of others, or the butts of animals. The things that come out of those butts are an especially prized topic.
“You ever fart so hard your back cracks?” he asks at one point, I presume rhetorically. He gets no answer from his boss, the ever-blustery Bart (Tom Wilson), nor from Amy Butlin (Iris Bahr), his too-serious, bun-haired new partner. These people don’t know what to make of white-trash Larry, what with his conducting restaurant inspections in flannel shirts with the sleeves cut off, and with his malaprops like saying “homeopathic” when he means “homophobic,” and with his constant — some would say chronic, perhaps even medically serious, like maybe he should see a doctor — flatulence.
The plot involves a series of food poisonings at the city’s best restaurants, with the All City Top Chef contest just days away. It’s up to Larry and Butlin to figure out who’s sabotaging the competition, even if it means taking on the breast-obsessed mayor (Joe Pantoliano).
Larry is portrayed as a nice, good-hearted guy, dumb because dumb is funny, but not dumb in a believable way. (He says Jesus came over on the Mayflower, and that it happened a hundred years ago). The screenplay is credited to relative newcomers Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, but I suspect Larry had a hand in writing lines like “She was so ugly she could trick-or-treat over the telephone” (which made me laugh, I don’t mind telling you).
The movie, directed by first-timer Trent Cooper, is sloppily assembled, like it was put together by drunk monkeys working on a tight deadline. Why do you need David Koechner as Larry’s retarded next-door neighbor, a character who does nothing? Whence the embittered wheelchair-bound co-worker (Tony Hale), a character who winds up doing something but who doesn’t need to be in a wheelchair? Why, when you’re creating a fake newspaper for an insert shot, would you put “January 1” (no year) as the date? Really, movie? Is it New Year’s Day? Funny, you didn’t mention it being New Year’s Eve in the previous scene, or Christmastime before that. Sloppy, sloppy, stupid.
It’s as unfunny a comedy as I’ve seen this year, so drunkenly focused on getting out as many poo-poo-pee-pee jokes as it can that it forgets to actually make them funny. Gross-out humor can be a magical thing — I laughed as hard as anyone at Chef’s post-death No. 2 on “South Park” this week — but an endless barrage of half-hearted poop references doesn’t qualify as humor. It reeks of desperation, among other things.
D- (1 hr., 29 min.; )