Indie movie studio Cinedigm’s new action spoof Tooken is dirty. It is raunchy. And it is also hilarious. The spoof of actor Liam Neeson’s Taken trilogy is so dirty and raunchy in fact that it’s a surprise that it earned an “R” rating instead of an “NC-17.” That aside it is still a laugh riot that viewers won’t be able to help but watch. That is thanks in large part to its completely nonsensical story that is very much in the vein of the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie and Haunted House franchises. The only difference between those movies and this one is that writer/director John Asher and co-writer Cameron Van Hoy have taken the comic element established in the Wayans brothers’ spoofs and knocked down the wall established by those movies. Whereas the Wayans brothers at least showed some restrain, this movie pulls zero punches and will leave audiences laughing so hard that they cry all while asking themselves why in the world they are watching the movie. Of course as important as this element is to the whole of Tooken it would be nothing without the work of the movie’s cast. Lead actor Lee Tergesen (Monster, Wayne’s World, Oz) does an impressive job of channeling legendary comic actor Leslie Neilsen here. Last and hardly least worth noting of this indie spoof is it’s the very fact that it is not a big budget movie even being a spoof. Being a proud, low-budget presentation, there’s something special about it. It just makes it that much more enjoyable. And together with both the movie’s story and the work of its cast it solidifies the movie as one that anyone wanting a good laugh.
Cinedigm’s new spoof flick Tooken is hands down one of the funniest movies that audiences will see this year. It is also the year’s bawdiest and raunchiest comedies that audiences will see this year. It is so bawdy and raunchy in fact that it is a surprise that it received an “R” rating versus an “NC-17” by the MPAA. That aside it is still a laugh riot that viewers won’t be able to help but watch. The comic element of the movie and the movie’s story together make up the central reason that audiences won’t be able to help but watch. The movie sees retired CIA agent Bryan Millers (Lee Tergesen–(Monster, Wayne’s World, Oz) trying to make a life for himself in retirement. He is divorced and working as a rent-a-cop, dreaming of his days on “the force.” And he is trying to stay connected to his teenage daughter Kim at the same time, which is essentially what leads to the story’s plot (if one even wants to call it a plot). In trying to connect with Kim (played here by actress Laura-Leigh—We’re The Millers, The Client List, The Ward) Bryan finds himself getting caught up in a completely bizarre plot by an evil mastermind named Brownfinger (yes, Brownfinger). Brownfinger is played by famed comedienne Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva, Face/Off, Notorious C.H.O.). Brownfinger’s completely bizarre plan involves dogs and explosives. Yes, truth is stranger than reality. And it is definitely strange in this case. Interestingly enough, writer/director John Asher and co-writer Cameron Van Hoy actually has Bryan break down the fourth wall to a point, going so far as to point out himself the absolutely ludicrous nature of Brownfinger’s plan, essentially pointing out what every viewer is likely thinking, too. That adds even more enjoyment to the whole of the story and points out a related topic that makes the story just as worth the watch as the story itself. The element in question is the script’s comic element.
The comic element of Tooken is not entirely new to those audiences that are familiar with the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie and Haunted House franchises. It is a brand of comedy that throws back to the likes of Leslie Neilsen’s Naked Gun franchise with its mix of slapstick comedy and sometimes irreverent humor. What sets the Naged Gun franchise and those of the Wayans Brothers from this spoof is that where their writers exhibited a certain amount of restraint, Asher and Van Hoy exhibit absolutely none, right up to the end, at which the movie borders on something akin to a hardcore porn flick, believe it or not. It’s still debatable if that is good or bad. Regardless, the lengths to which Asher and Van Hoy go in delivering the story’s comic element does pay homage to its predecessors while establishing its own brand of comic mayhem, thus making both this element and the movie’s script in whole a solid foundation for those that want a good laugh.
The script crafted for Tooken and its comic elements offer audiences looking for a good laugh plenty of reason to watch this movie even with its ability to disturb some viewers at random points. Having laid a solid foundation for audiences, the work of the movie’s cast rests easily atop both elements. Tergesen is especially entertaining in his role as Bryan Millers. Audiences will especially love how Tergesen willingly switches back and forth between an American accent and a completely intentionally terrible Irish accent as he pokes fun at Liam Neeson throughout the movie. Those that know their movie history will especially appreciate Tergesen’s work not just for this reason but because his portrayal of Bryan harkens back to Leslie Nielsen’s work in the Naked Gun franchise just as much as the movie’s overall comic element. Reno Wilson (Mike and Molly, Transformers, Prison Break) is just as entertaining as Lenore’s (Lauren Stamile—Scandal, Burn Notice, Community) new love interest. He obviously fully embraced his role as Money Maker. Audiences will find themselves laughing riotously at his full-on portrayal of the stereotypical gangsta rapper figure. Joyce Bulifant will have viewers laughing just as much in her role as Bryan’s mother Edna. Edna is everything that the stereotypical grandmother isn’t. She also used to serve with the CIA. And she is definitely anything but a little old lady. The easiest way to describe her is that she is a tough as nails woman with the libido of a teenager. This is despite her age. And she shows it throughout the movie. Bulifant is spot on in her portrayal of Edna, too. If that doesn’t get audiences laughing, then it’s anyone’s guess what will. But for those that love a good laugh, her work and that of the rest of the movie’s cast proves in the long run why their collective work makes for even more reason for audiences that love a good laugh will want to see this movie. There’s not enough time or space to discuss the work of the rest of the movie’s cast (both lead and supporting). But it goes without saying that the work of the entire cast makes for more than its share of laughs. Together with the movie’s script and its comic elements, all the noted elements together show even more clearly than ever why comedy fans (adult comedy fans that is) should see this movie if only once.
The work of Tooken’s cast and the work of those that crafted the movie’s script—which also includes its comic element—together make for plenty of reason for older comedy fans to check out this nonstop laugh riot indie action spoof. For all of the enjoyment that both elements offer audiences, they would mean nothing without the mention of the movie’s intentionally low budget approach. Yes there are explosions. Yes there is some blood spatter. Yes there is gunfire. But the production values tied into these elements and the rest of the movie are anything but big budget. The interesting thing is that this is actually a good thing. It’s another way in which the movie sets itself apart from the works of the Wayans Brothers and other more well-known spoofs. From Money Maker getting his thumb and eventually hand torn off, to the almost cartoonish way that he survived getting blown up beforehand, to the rather disturbing “sword” fight in the movie’s final minutes to so many other moments, the production values of said moments are proudly low budget. In an odd way, the fact that it didn’t try to be a big budget spoof especially in terms of its production values actually made it even more enjoyable. It really served to establish the movie’s identity within the spoof genre. It served to show that a movie can be low budget and still be entertaining regardless of the movie’s genre. Together with the work of the movie’s cast and those that crafted its script, it serves to completely solidify Tooken as a flick that indie or otherwise is still a fun piece for anyone looking to escape, turn off their brain, and have a good laugh.
Tooken may not be a big budget movie or even a big budget spoof. Regardless it is still a movie that anyone looking for an escape and a good laugh will appreciate and enjoy. That is thanks in large part to the movie’s script complete with all of its comic elements. The work of the movie’s cast is just as much to thank for the movie’s enjoyment. The fact that the movie’s cast and crew embrace the movie’s being low budget on every level makes the movie in whole that much more enjoyable. It brings everything full circle and shows clearly why anyone looking for an escape and a good laugh will want to watch this laugh riot indie action spoof. Tooken will be available on DVD Tuesday, July 7th. More information on this and other titles from Cinedigm is available online now at:
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