The low point of Larry The Cable Guy’s “Witless Protection” comes when Larry tries to check into a small motel. The proprietor is a Middle Eastern man who speaks in backward Yoda language. “Pay with card credit you must!” he says. (Really, Larry The Cable Guy movie? You’re going to make fun of how other people talk?) Larry is trying to stay off the radar by not using any plastic, so he’s offering to pay with a wad of crumpled-up dollar bills. The clerk says no, it’s company policy, he must have a credit card. He is not mean or snippy about it; he’s just stating the policy. Lots of hotels require a credit card, if only to cover incidental expenses.
That’s when Larry starts abusing him. He unwads a bill and reads aloud how cash is “legal tender for all debts public and private.” Then he says, “Can you read English, Pamper-head?!” Then he calls him Mohammed, and makes fun of the guy’s real name when he corrects him. Then he pulls out his badge and flat-out threatens him. “You’ll be in Club Gitmo faster than you can say ‘Eye-slamic jihad,’ using your holy book here [referencing a Koran on the desk] for toilet paper!”
Larry The Cable Guy, ladies and gentlemen. Larry The Cable Guy.
Now, politically incorrect humor is one thing. You can get away with it if you lace it with irony so that the audience knows you don’t REALLY feel that away about whichever minority group you’re targeting. It also helps if it’s funny, as “South Park” and Sarah Silverman generally are.
But there’s no irony in Mr. The Cable Guy’s rant. The poor desk clerk is completely undeserving of the attack, and it’s not even a cleverly worded one. The intent of the scene isn’t to make the audience think, “Ha ha, the movie is mocking racism by pretending to be racist!” No, the intent of the scene is make the audience think, “Yeah, Larry! Stick it to those damn terrorist camel jockeys! These colors don’t run! WOOOOOO!!”
I hated this movie for a lot of reasons, most of them typical: because it’s excruciating, nonsensical, idiotic, unfunny, badly conceived, badly written, badly acted, and badly directed. It was the above-described scene that put it into a category all its own for me, where I began hating it not just for its utter lack of quality as art or entertainment, but for the blackness of its very soul.
For the record, Larry plays a small-town cop named Larry who “rescues” a beautiful blonde named Madeleine (Ivana Milicevic) from “kidnappers” — who, it turns out, are actually FBI agents protecting her as they transport her to Chicago to testify in a criminal trial. But Larry won’t let her go even after the truth is explained, because he believes the feds are crooked. He takes it upon himself to get her to Chicago safely.
There’s an extended sequence in an airport in which Larry runs afoul of the security personnel and winds up being strip-searched. The absurd, illogical rules of airport travel are certainly fodder for satire, but the way it’s done here is as pestilential as the rest of the movie: loud, one-note TSA agents tromping past “subtlety” and “wit” and going right for the obvious gags, i.e., the ones about Larry’s questionable hygiene. It’s an imbecile’s idea of what “satire” is.
Within the first 10 minutes of the film I noted these subjects being referenced: penis size, masturbation, poop, and pornographic magazines. Over the course of the rest of the movie there’s an abundance of sexual references and dirty jokes, plus the obligatory moment where the stuffy British rich person (Peter Stormare, doing the worst British accent I’ve ever heard) falls face-first into a pile of horse manure.
See? It’s the kind of down-home family entertainment that liberal Hollyweird just doesn’t make anymore.
The writer and director is a man named Charles Robert Carner, whose prior credits are mostly in TV. I don’t want to speak ill of the man on a personal level, since he might be a kind, generous, intelligent fellow in real life, but I will say that as the movie progressed, I fantasized more and more about it failing at the box office, ruining his career, and forcing him to live on the streets. When Larry took off all his clothes for the body-cavity search at the airport, I retreated deeper into my imagination, and the fantasy grew more elaborate. Now I pictured the homeless Charles Robert Carner for some reason moving to Portland (we’re very homeless-friendly here), where one day I happen to pass him on the street. He asks for spare change, and I tell him I don’t have any, but as I walk past him something about his demeanor catches my eye. I pause. “Do I know you?” I ask. He says, “I don’t think so. I just moved here from L.A.” I ask why he left L.A., and he says, “I was a filmmaker, but my career got ruined by a horrible movie I made.” I say, “Oh, wow. Which movie?” And he says, “‘Witless Protection,’ starring Larry The–” and before he can finish I punch him in the face.
In closing, allow me to quote several of Larry’s jokes from “Witless Protection,” just to give you an idea of the type of humor we’re dealing with here.
“You’re quicker than a mule gettin’ nut-kicked.”
“The last female I was with that was as warm and cuddly as you was a porcupine.”
“That’s heavier than Michael Moore after a Las Vegas buffet.”
“You’re faster than Angelina Jolie adopting jungle pygmies.”
“I’m madder than a two-fingered cripple trying to return a text message.”
SOMEONE ELSE: It could be a catastrophe!
LARRY: It could be real bad, too.
If you find any of this funny, please rush out and see “Witless Protection,” and then please take your own life. It is the only honorable course of action.
F (1 hr., 37 min.; )