Saturday, January 13, 2007

Movie Review: Best of Just Kidding Vol. 1-8, 1992-95 & Rude Pranks & Dirty Gags, 1992-95 2 ½ Stars

With ultra-cheesy European production values (think bad amateur porn), a soundtrack lifted from “Benny Hill” (think bad British comedy), and second-rate gags rejected from Candid Camera (think The New Candid Camera) the Best of Just Kidding series (as seen on TV!) can still be thoroughly entertaining—and often side-splittingly funny.

The entire collection (Volumes 1-8) contains over 300 clips of bratty pranks, practical jokes and sometimes naughty sight gags, all completely live and unrehearsed. The bits range from the immature—little kids throwing waterballoons at the feet of businesspeople—to the clever—patrons of a zoo’s spider exhibit getting the wits scared out of them when the Just Kidding crew, hidden in the ceiling, slowly lowers fake rubber spiders on to the unsuspecting zoo-goers

While the Just Kidding series is probably not the kind of thing you’d watch on Date Night, it is perfect for parties, teenagers’ sleepovers and, especially, afterhours chillin’—those times when everything becomes that much funnier.

The latest installment, Best of Just Kidding: Rude Pranks & Dirty Gags, is filled with hilarious scatological bits. A sidewalk becomes a fake doggie doo obstacle course. A man at a bus stop begins to leak yellow fluid from his pants leg. A girl in a short skirt needs help carrying a mirror with “revealing” results. A ventilation grating blows the shirts of unsuspecting passersby over their heads a la Marilyn. And, in the funniest gag, a young lady with a flat tire asks gallant men to help her fix the flat. As they work the hand pump, her dress flies up!

The drawbacks: because the nature of the show is hidden camera (shot on obviously amateur equipment), we never actually get to hear the reactions of the victims. And, to make it worse, the producers have made a feeble attempt to use wacky sounds and voiceovers in the tradition of America’s Funniest. (Plus, none of the tapes have a running time of more than 45 minutes.)

The producers, distributors or whoever does these things also consistently point out that these clips are unexpurgated, uncensored and uncut. “We could not show you even a fraction of the material because it wouldn't make it past the censors! Not for the kids!” But I never saw or heard anything that I couldn’t see or hear in primetime, and, frankly these tapes are geared specifically for the kids …or the extremely punch-drunk.

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