Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour: 30 Days & 30 Nights — Hollywood to the Heartland

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Vince Vaughn is a funny guy. Just ask him. And the thin line between self-regard and auto-eroticism gets obliterated very early on in this film that documents Vaughn and his show-biz buds on a 30-day tour. To hear Vaughn tell it in a series of local media interviews — each one more fatuous then the last — this flick ain't just some roving band of comedians dispensing dick jokes; rather, it's a sacred pilgrimage to the mystic heart of America.

When the star and his crew of comedy ham-and-eggers roll into Nashville for a gig at the hallowed Ryman auditorium, Vaughn has a near religious epiphany at the sight of Minnie Pearl's dressing room. Want more corn pone? Watch his breathless fawning over now-deceased Hee Haw star Buck Owens, who presents Vaughn his own engraved red-white-and-blue guitar, as if Owens were Arthur knighting Galahad. If such emotion seems, oh, just a wee bit forced, it's no surprise because Vaughn made a career playing sarcastic, terminally insincere hipsters.

One's enjoyment of the flick will hinge largely on one's feeling for Vaughn, because the comedians he presents here are shockingly bland. While they're supposed to be a culturally and ethnically diverse group, each represents but another flavor of frat-boy juvenilia. There's the macho Guido (Bret Ernst), the Frito-eating Midwestern hick (John Caparulo), the Egyptian-born funny-guy (Ahmed Ahmed) and a struggling waiter (Sebastian Maniscalco). If you've never heard of these dudes, don't worry. But if you consider terrorist jokes from an Arabic comedian cutting-edge, than you're in for a treat. These guys have a worldview that goes no deeper than the cushion of the nightclub barstool upon which their buddies are puking up Jäger bombs. Perhaps the most aggravating is Caparulo, since he's the best natural performer, but his dumbed-down shtick is a boorish "I'm just a Ohio everyman idjit" that runs counter to his obvious intelligence.

There are some smiles to be had, particularly watching Vaughn goof on stage with pals Jon Favreau, Justin Long and a grown-up Peter Billingsley (the kid in A Christmas Story), who Vaughn met as a young actor doing an after school special. Mostly, though, it's just dudes on a bus pulling dumb pranks and dreaming about how their careers will soon take off, which seems unlikely, since this doc has gathered mold on a shelf for two years.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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