Slamdance 2011 Review: MODERN IMBECILE’S PLANET WORLD

by: Kate Erbland
January 29th, 2011

Rating: 3/5

Writer: Doug Manley
Director: Doug Manley
Cast: Doug Manley, Kevin Brennan, Todd Berger, Scott Whitney

In MODERN IMBECILE’S PLANET WORLD, actors Doug Manley and Kevin Brennan play actors. Who are named Doug Manley and Kevin Brennan. Who also happen to be complete imbeciles who cannot tell the difference between an alien planet and the Mojave Desert. Luckily enough, the real Manley and Brennan are not imbeciles; instead, they are clearly movie and comedy nerds who are well-educated enough to pull bits from all sorts of other sources to make their own film campy and bizarre in the best possible ways.

Doug and Kevin (the characters) are best friends who have somehow hit Hollywood paydirt with a seriously terrible sitcom (His and His and Hers), but the rigors of their careers are slowly breaking them down. They may have a wildly popular show, but they have zero respect – members of the press bitingly refer to them as “self-proclaimed actors,” and their malaise has led to them creating some incredibly ill-advised side projects (such as their clothing label, BUFU). In an attempt to get some Method acting street cred, the boys sign up to take a trip on a space shuttle, all in the interest of researching a new project. Of course, the shuttle blows up before it even gets out of our atmosphere, crashing into the Mojave Desert, and Kevin and Doug are the only survivors. And they are convinced they are on some sort of alien planet – a “planet world.” Will they survive? With an intellect like theirs, well, the odds are pretty low.

Make no mistake, MODERN IMBECILE’S PLANET WORLD is completely moronic. But it’s deliriously, deliciously stupid and self-aware. Manley’s script pokes fun at the Hollywood machine and the two idiots saddled with a fame they don’t quite deserve. Brennan and Manley have a few signature moves – they specialize in repetition humor – picking a gag, playing it till it’s not funny, and then keeping it going until it’s funny again. It’s no surprise that both Manley and Brennan have a background in improv, as they know exactly what an audience wants to see, even if the audience doesn’t quite know it yet.

In true B-movie fashion, Manley consistently makes purposeful mistakes – from sight gags that would normally signal shoddy editing to long riff breaks that would cue us into a bad script – that here give big nods to the greatness of “bad movies.” If the film’s opening sequence, an animated combo of James Bond style and grindhouse energy, didn’t clue you in to what you are about to see, it’s straight-up stupid funny with a hearty dash of classic comedic sensibility. MODERN IMBECILE’S PLANET WORLD is a film destined to become a cult favorite with a select group of goofy film nerds who will get (and love) its many gags and sense of self-humor.

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