Courtesy of TruTv
TV shows getting the big screen treatment isn’t a new concept, except they usually exist to progress the main plot in conjunction with the series currently airing. You saw it with “The X-Files: Fight The Future” which helped bridge seasons five and six, and most recently, “Downton Abbey.” In the case of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” it’s easy to see why the show works in the television format, but as a theatrical experience, it struggles to make the leap as a major motion picture.
Based on the popular cable program, “Impractical Jokers,” that currently airs on TruTV: the film assumes you already know the prankster format. Four pals from Staten Island (Brian Quinn, Joe Gatto, James Murray, and Sal Vulcano) pull hidden camera jokes on unsuspecting folks who are going about their daily lives. Generally, one at a time, each “Joker” is thrown into a situation, with an ear piece, and the other three are nearby watching on a monitor and feed bits and lines for the other to say or do. For example, a scene in the film shows the guys walking around a crowded quad with an urn filled with their mothers ashes. They walk up to people and say ridiculous things, and if proves too much for them to say, well they lose and the next joker steps up to the plate.
In the film, there are little stakes, and the thinly written narrative revolves around the guys trying to make it to a Paula Abdul concert in Miami (Abdul, being a good sport, plays herself) with their backstage passes. The catch is, there’s only three passes, and so they must partake in a series of hidden camera challenges and the loser has to sit out the concert. Riveting cinema.
Among the pranks, there’s a job interview lined up with a prestigious college basketball program, a car breaking down on the highway, and a fishing trip that goes haywire. Fans of the show probably don’t need convincing to see the film, but those on the outside will feel isolated. The movie works best when it stays true to its prankster formula and doesn’t force awkward scripted scenes down our throats (a scene about cheddar bay biscuits from Red Lobster anyone?) It’s equally annoying to see these guys laughing and gushing over their own jokes, and it feels like you missed the punchline. I’m glad they had fun, but what about the rest of us?