Wednesday, 7 December 2011

"The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!" Review

by Alex Hill


There is a reason why I like vulgar humour. Your Family Guys, your South Parks and its imitators. I respect Married, With Children for getting that ball rolling. I like these shows to varying degrees, but there is a common thread that ties them together: They will do anything, anything to get a laugh. A well-written show with "adult humour" will go to any lengths, and fish for jokes in the deepest, darkest places. So many programs are bound and gagged by restrictions. By networks with no sense of humour, and people with frail sensibilities.

I respect any writer willing to find where the line is, and then throw up on it. Even when it's not serving a point, or trying to attach social commentary. Even if the joke fails, I'm just glad they tried it at all. "The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie" is funny. It's crude, repulsive and mean-spirited, but it's funny. It's funny in the first ten seconds. But your mileage may very. Two people could collect reasons for why they like or dislike this show, and both lists would look about the same.

James Arnold Taylor, Tara Strong, Abbey DiGregorio, Cree Summer, Jack Plotnick, Adam Carolla and Jess Harnell. One big crappy family.

Cree Summer and Tara Strong lead the pack here, in a house full of archetypes and clich├ęs. These actors are tasked with reciting some of the most foul, racist, heart-scarring dialogue ever written. Initially a parody of reality television, it has since widened the net to humiliate itself and anything else Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein could think of. Nothing is sacred. Many of the actors are veterans of their trade, known primarily for their work in family-friendly programming. Drawn Together must have been as freeing to perform as it is to watch.

The house-guests are the toxic runoff of superhero comics, video games and cartoons. Summer plays "Foxxy Love", who is a throwback to the Hannah Barbera shows where a band of musicians solved crimes in their spare time. She senses something is amiss in the reality tv-show house the characters live in, and investigates when she discovers her gutter-mouth is no longer censored. She shares a home with a bigoted Disney princess and monstrous Betty-Boop parody(both played by Strong), as well as parodies of western animation, Japanese animation and a superhero with an... interesting taste in women.

These characters are not role-models. In the space of a few seconds they can be simultaneously awful and endearing. But like Beavis and Butthead, I began to develop a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. Even as their plot devolves into aimless nonsense, I still enjoyed their quest for validation. Chased away by a machine hunter known as I.S.R.A.E.L.(Seth MacFarlane), their attempts to get back on the air after being canceled take them to places that conveniently allow for pop-culture poking. Although it's less of a coherent plot, and more of an excuse to toss some more Jew jokes onto the pyre(okay, even I feel bad about that one).

I laughed. Have mercy on me, I laughed. Sometimes I did not. Sometimes I felt it wasn't being fair. It's understandable that they would be upset at being replaced by Comedy Central for South Park. Their resentment is valid, especially considering critics blasted Drawn Together for being vulgar while heaping praise on South Park for the same reasons. But taking it out on South Park seems misguided. It's not Matt Stone or Trey Parker's fault their show was more openly accepted by hypocrites.

But I laughed and had a good time about it all the same. I wouldn't want it any other way. I would rather a show have the balls to say something I don't like than to pussy out. Watching it, I was reminded of the words of another crass and poignant icon of animation: Duckman.

"It's precisely when humour is offensive that we need it most. Comedy should provoke! It should blast through prejudices, challenge preconceptions! Comedy should always leave you different from when it found you."

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