The message, clearly, is that nice guys don’t just finish last – they don’t finish at all. Sure, you can take things too far, as illustrated by Thornton’s behavior in the end, but overall, this film is trying to tell us that real men grab life by the b***s, doing whatever it takes to succeed.  It’s humanistic at best, evil at worst.  Not the sort of thing I want pumping passively into my brain, to be sure.

Compounding this problem is the casting, which is woefully off.  You would think that anything Heder does would be good, after his stellar performance in “Napoleon Dynamite.”  But unfortunately, he tends to be very one-note here – with little transformation from beginning to end.  They could have at least cut his hair, too, which might have prevented me from staring at his teeth so much.  And speaking of staring, what in the name of Hollywood has happened to Billy-Bob Thornton?  Talk about plastic surgery gone awry.  The guy looks like the lovechild of Kim Jong-il and Bernie Mac.  Forget “Bad Santa.” He’s not funny here at all.

A miscast Duncan comes across as a stock cliché.  Barrett’s role is drawn too sparsely for anything but sweet adoration.  The only standout is Sarah Silverman, a comedienne who delivers constant zingers with flinching flair.  Not that I’d want to be her friend, of course.  And finally, let’s not forget my good friend Ben Stiller, who is apparently required by law to appear in all of Phillip’s films, as well as about 16 others every year.  Here, he does so in a long, stringy black wig.  Hilarious!  Not.

The DVDs extras are minimal, and the featurette is one big joke, with actors talking nonsense throughout.  Too bad Phillips didn’t go with his alternate ending, which would have marginally improved the film and closed on a more traditional note, instead of the slapstick, "Saturday Night Live" type of skit we’re left with.  Which, come to think of it, pretty much describes the entire film.

AUDIENCE:  Adults only

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Alternate Ending: the one they should have used
  • Gag Reel: not funny at all
  • The Making-Of You Didn’t See on TV: full of crude, farcical and largely useless information
  • Feature Commentary with Director and Writer
  • Theatrical Trailer

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Several scenes in bar where people drink; other social drinking.
  • Language/Profanity:  Numerous obscenities and profanities, some strong.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  An implied rape of several men, with repeated references to same; man has an affair, including planned trip out of town with mistress; various flirtations and kisses.
  • Violence:  Lots of verbal abuse, military style; on a men’s retreat, men chase one another, point paintball guns, shoot and take hostages; man slaps another man; men pretend to be police officers and handcuff an innocent man, then spray mace in his face; ongoing reference to men being raped and subsequent cover-up; threat of death with electrical shock paddles; man is slapped several times; man falls several times.