Broken Lizard's Club Dread

Broken Lizard's Club Dread

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Broken Lizard's Club Dread

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The sketch-comedy group Broken Lizard has carved out a niche by revisiting trashy, lowbrow retro subgenres most critics and filmgoers would prefer to forget. The 2001 cult hit Super Troopers followed amiably in the path of Police Academy and its imitators, and now Club Dread gleefully parodies the hormonally overdriven slasher films that followed in the wake of Halloween and Friday The 13th. Of course, the success of Scream and its knockoffs should make this kind of parody obsolete, but one of the remarkable things about Club Dread is that it's a slasher spoof that owes almost nothing to earlier horror send-ups. Set in an island paradise benevolently ruled over by "mellow island songster" Bill Paxton, the film follows the resort's semi-clad and oft-imperiled staff as it tries to survive the blood-soaked rampage of a machete-wielding killer. The film's leads are played largely by the highly capable Broken Lizard troupe, but Paxton steals the film as a bong-addled, Jimmy Buffett-like singer quick to point out that he wrote "Piña Coladaburg" some seven and a half years before that other guy released "Margaritaville." A more mean-spirited film might make Paxton's character a calculating shark in beach bum's clothing, then play the contrast for cheap laughs, but Club Dread amusingly suggests that he's nearly identical to his goofy persona, all stony good vibes gone ragged and frayed over the years. Like Super Troopers and the conceptually similar Wet Hot American Summer, Club Dread will likely be appreciated most by pop-culture geeks familiar enough with its source material to recognize the film's many sly winks at the slasher genre. By this point, Broken Lizard is making cult comedies for its cult. And though Club Dread is enjoyable (if a little uneven) throughout, it does linger on for a few corpses too many: There's no reason a film like this should go near the 100-minute mark, let alone exceed it. Still, with Super Troopers and Club Dread, Broken Lizard has cranked out two genuinely funny movies in a row. Given the state of cinematic comedy, that makes it a refreshing anomaly.

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