‘Wild’ Ride Tosses Vaughn on Blue-Collar Blues

    {grate 1.5} Maybe we should call Vince Vaughn a philanthropist, doling
    out fame to comic friends a few rungs down the success ladder. His new
    docu-comedy, “Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights — Hollywood to the
    Heartland,” hopes to be a journey to stardom for the “Wedding Crashers”’s
    up-and-coming comedian pals, disguised as blue-collar stand up. But like the
    title and the endless, empty road that the tour bus navigates, the film drags
    on painfully. Sharing the bus with Vaughn for the solid month of shows in 2005
    was midwestern fast-food employee John Caparulo, dancing Guido Bret Ernst,
    nondescript macho Sebastian Maniscalco and the token Arab, Ahmed Ahmed.

    Modeling the tour after Buffalo Bill’s travelling variety
    show, Vaughn’s goal, which he states within the first five minutes, is to
    demonstrate how the inspiration behind a standup comedian’s material stems
    directly from his or her own personal life and experiences.

    After the first hour you start to wonder how on earth the
    filmmakers will be able to stretch out the severe lack of substance into the
    full 100 minutes. Then you quickly realize that they will indeed fail
    miserably, despite tossing in some geographically relevant rock songs like
    “Georgia” and “Streets of Bakersfield,” which only distract between the comedic
    segments.

    Surprisingly, the film’s meat can be found in the patriotic
    filler footage of historical landmarks in all 30 tour stops, combined with an
    in-depth look at each of the comedians’ humble beginnings, rather than the
    performances themselves.

    While backstage interviews about life in the unpredictable
    industry and ma-and-pa introductions attempt to tug at the heartstrings, “Wild
    West” can’t maintain a comfortable balance between the funny and serious — like
    the rocky transitions from toilet jokes to anxiety-induced, borderline-suicidal
    comments. At one point, the film jumps from wisecracks about racial
    stereotyping to footage of the four comedians handing out free benefit show
    tickets to Hurricane Katrina evacuees in a trailer park.

    All good intentions aside, the sporadic shifts are awkwardly
    abrupt and possibly too heavy for the purposes of the film. The few clips of
    the tour we do get to see, however, are dominated with cameos by Vaughn’s
    “Swingers” co-star John Favreau and Dwight Yoakam, among others, making it
    difficult to tell whether the four headliners actually have what it takes to
    make it to the big time, or if they are just a backdrop for already established
    talent.

    The film’s irony lies in the fact that all 30 packed houses
    embraced the four comedians with open arms and wall-crumbling laughter,
    indicating there was either a gigantic “applause” sign held off-screen, or the
    filmmakers did a poor job in selecting which bits to showcase in theaters. For
    director Ari Sendel, the amount of space between laughs is about equal to the
    space between this film and any paycheck, big break or Oscar.

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