Caught this film today in a late matinee. I’d admit that a less than crowded afternoon theater is never really optimum for comedies. Though I’d like to think that we all appreciate a funny film individually - that consensus of laughter is incredibly powerful and can really up the appraisal of the experience.
That’s said, I think Reno suffers a bit in the wake of a film like Borat. Borat - though far more about pranking than sketch - raised the bar on how something improvised could play. Particularly in keeping something outlandish going but while looking real. One of the things that always kept me from embracing the show wholeheartedly is the conceit of being a documentary is far too loose - the antics are allowed to swallow up the format.
Living by the gag is good for the sake of the joke but not for the sake of the whole. For a film, that whole should be kept above all else. When a joke takes precedence over everything else, it becomes a wink that destroys an illusion. I’m probably less forgiving because it’s playing inside the mockumentary format - but with the format now having so many examples of how it can be done - The Office being one - I just don’t see why not just do Reno 911! as a sitcom/sketch hybrid if you’re not going to use the advantages of the filming style.
Naturally, the former State members are masterful sketch crafters and there’s some impressive segments in the film. One sequence has us watch the officers return to their motel after partying up on South Beach and their various attempts to couple and not couple, culminating in a brilliant funny-sad peep show.
The biggest joy I took from Reno was the fact that they cleverfully found a way to keep a gag in the trailer and make a surprise. In the trailer, while trying to get the attention of partiers at a rap mogul’s residence, Chief Dangle pulls his gun and fires off a round. In the trailer they cut to black and we hear the clicks of various weapons pointed at them. In the film itself, it’s only a little different but the essential structure of the joke isn’t broken. I was just impressed that whoever cut the trailer had the decency to figure out how to show something funny without stepping on a gag for the film.