I’ll make this one really easy on you. Go Google “Impractical Jokers” and watch a full skit. Did you laugh once? Well, you might enjoy the new feature film. If you didn’t, stay away entirely.
I find myself somewhat in the middle. Over the course of the last nine years or so, a group of four guys from Staten Island called “The Tenderloins” have ingratiated themselves into American pop culture through a show called “Impractical Jokers” on truTV. Odds are you’ve heard of it, or been to a restaurant that was airing it: the gimmick usually involves one of the guys as a “plant” in a public situation, while the other three tell them to say heinous or outrageous things over a microphone into an earpiece.
While I’m not actively seeking out Impractical Jokers content, I’ve seen enough of the show to know that I appreciate the concept of it. The foursome is mostly harmless, with the troupe itself at the butt of the joke more often than not. It’s like HGTV or Food Network in comedy form: it kind of goes in and comes out. That’s basically what the Impractical Jokers film is: an elongated episode of the TV show.
There’s a very loose plot involving a lighthearted high school grudge and a contest that allows only three of the four to see Paula Abdul perform, but it’s so milquetoast and poorly acted that it can barely count as a “plot” at all. In fact, the fact that the narrative exists at all is the biggest problem. I actually don’t think any of the four are particularly bad actors, as they have plenty of experience performing via skits. It’s the inclusion of Paula Abdul and the weird almost-marketing nature of the contest that really takes you out of the film constantly.
Then the movie jumps back into a skit, and it’s hit or miss time again. Some land, some don’t: that’s how their typical style of comedy goes. And it just doesn’t work for a full hour and a half runtime, especially when some of it is padded with forced gags to get them from place to place as they drive down the east coast to their eventual Miami destination. It’s endearing that the Tenderloins crew wrote the treatment alongside of director Chris Henchy, but that’s ultimately why Impractical Jokers: The Movie will only appeal to hardcore fans who simply love to see these personalities at any cost. With a tighter framing device and a better premise, it could have elevated the material for a new audience.