Initially, the movie seems a little mixed up. As if it can't quite figure out whether it wants to be a stand-up comedy concert (a la Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You For the Last Time or Richard Pryor - Live in Concert) or a documentary on what it's like to be a comedian. Once we realize it's more the latter, we get settled in and actually find ourselves immersed in the experience. It's actually quite interesting to learn what goes on behind the scenes, and even a bit unsettling when we learn that stand-up comedians are some of the most sensitive and insecure people on the Earth. Quite the opposite of what we'd expect.
The four comics Vaughn handpicked for the road tour are relative no-names, but they'll certainly gain a bigger following once this film makes its run. The squinty-faced, foul-mouthed, country-boy John Caparulo is questionably the funniest of the bunch, but even the other three are a few notches above what you'll find on any given Comedy Central show. There's also the double-named Arab-man-living-in-New York, Ahmed Ahmed; the self-proclaimed Guido, Bret Ernst; and Sebastian Maniscalco who has more hang-ups than Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David. We get a very tasty sampling of what these guys have to offer but come away wanting more our comedy appetites not completely satiated.
The stand-up segments of the R-rated show are interspersed with candid backstage commentaries as well as footage taken on the tour bus and the shenanigans that are sure to accompany an all-male entourage such as this. Also popping in occasionally are the movie's executive producer, Peter Billingsley, also known as Ralphie from the Yule Tide classic, A Christmas Story; actor Justin Long; Vaughn's Wedding Crashers co-star, Keir O'Donnell; and even actor/director Jon Favreau, who broke into the show-biz industry about the same time as Vaughn himself. Some of the film's funnier bits are when the actors bring attention to their own glimpses of fame such as an impromptu skit featuring Long imitating one of Vaughn's scenes from Swingers.
Each stop along the tour brings with it a new and interesting tidbit to the film. Whether it be visiting the home towns of some of the show's performers where we spend a little time getting to know their family members, or the occasional side-trip to an interesting venue such as The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, where a couple of the performers received their first standing ovations. Director Ari Sandel even manages to wring some entertainment value out of the fact that the tour had to be rerouted northward to avoid hurricane Rita. As the tour moves through those areas, the sometimes-princely whininess of the comedians - who complain about having to perform some benefit shows for homeless Katrina survivors camped out in a trailer park - plays nicely against their now humbled attitudes and changed outlook.
Although Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show is entertaining enough without thinking too much about it, one can't help but wonder about the film's purpose or why a camera was brought along on the trip in the first place, unless they planned on making a comedy concert film but instead called an audible somewhere along the way. We come away a little confused as to whether we're supposed to appreciate stand-up comedians more now that we know what they go through, or if the film makers just want to entertain us with some funny jokes and hilarious skits. Or perhaps, although highly unlikely, they are hoping to introduce unknowing audiences to these four up-and-coming comics, hoping we'll now go see their shows. Regardless, the fact that the whole thing works can't be denied. It's both a funny showpiece and a revealing drama. We get a newfound respect for comics when we discover that a common flaw running through their psyche is one of insecurity and the fear of failure. That's curiously ironic because not many other professions expose its practitioners to rejection and defeat more than that of a stand-up comedian.
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.
* Commentary - 2 Feature-length audio commentaries
o With Vince Vaughn and producer Peter Billingsley
o With director Ari Sandel and comedians Bret Ernst, Ahmed Ahmed, and Sebastian Maniscalco
o Bonus Material (53:57)
o The Tour (5:52)
o The Making of 'The Wild West Comedy Show' (6:01)
o Behind the Scenes (9:47)
* Trailers - Original theatrical trailer for Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show
Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase Packaging
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