Directed by Pedro Atencio.
Starring Bert Kreischer, Mark Hamill, Jimmy Tatro, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Nikola Đuričko, Iva Babić, Martyn Ford, Robert Maaser, Jess Gabor, Rita Bernard-Shaw, Nikola Djuricko, Oleg Taktarov, Amelie Child Villiers, Marko Nedeljkovic, Jovan Savic and Aleksandar Sreckovic.
Bert’s drunken past catches up with him 20 years later when he and his father are kidnapped by those Bert wronged 20 years ago while drunk in a college semester abroad in Russia.
Coming from director Peter Atencio (and a script by Kevin Biege and Scotty Landes), Machine is based on the comedy star Bert Kreischer. For those unfamiliar, his routine on stage (at least from the brief glimpses seen setting up the story) and here on camera boils down to a raunchy version of Kevin James. If that sounds tempting and hilarious, go with it. For the rest of us, it’s a long two hours.
Bert Kreischer plays a version of himself here, a famous comedian turned alcoholic family man with a wife and two daughters, who gained popularity by telling a funny story about his drunken days in college in Russia and getting involved with mobsters. , at one point goaded by his peers into stealing a Russian crime lord’s relic watch on a train. This robbery has not been forgotten, as the introductory segment shows the boss, 25 years later, elderly and on oxygen for life support, firing a gun at the television, airing one of Bert Kreischer’s comedy shows detailing the incident.
While throwing an overwhelmingly large sweet 16 birthday party for his daughter, Irina (Iva Babic), the daughter of this Russian patriarch, arrives unannounced with tattooed bodyguards prepared to kidnap Bert and his estranged father Albert (Mark Hamill). and disapproving but visiting, forcing the former to retrace his steps on that drunken night and set the clock in a power play against his misogynistic brethren to take over the criminal empire. The gist is that Bert and Albert need to overcome their differences so that the former can be a better father to his children. They’re about to get a whole lot of unplanned therapy through some dangerous shenanigans.
What passes for jokes here is generally lazy (constant comments about Bert gaining weight for 25 years, a fascination with referencing everything from Austin Powers to Family matters, standard father-son bickering and shocking humor at the expense of two average citizens caught in violent situations). There are some action scenes in which Iva Babic certainly shows off an admirable physique during gun-fu matches, but the plot here is generally unappealing. Part of the reason is that Machine it takes an ungainly amount of time to combine comedy with action and narrative drive.
Oddly enough, the strongest stretch of the entire film is an extended flashback that confidently and cunningly edits the aforementioned train’s present and past as Bert guides other characters and viewers through the most intoxicated night of his life. (with Jimmy Tatro playing his younger self) and not just where the watch might be, but how it morphed into someone he’s not necessarily proud of, even if it paved the way for fame and fortune. The closest one Machine something emotional or moving has to be a betrayal scene against a college sweetheart, only for the story to do nothing with it.
Beyond that, Machine it’s a race between Irina and her stereotypical macho brothers (who are so generic villains even to Russian mobsters) to locate the watch and curry favor with her father to control the criminal empire when it passes. There are some decently funny lines here and there, Bert Kreischer impresses when it’s time to get physical, and there’s a respectable message about finding balance in life regarding certain responsibilities, expectations, and hobbies. Unfortunately, there is too much dead air and jokes that bomb more than real bombs (Family matters is quoted during the climax, causing nothing but embarrassment). Meanwhile, Bert Kreischer’s schtick is irritating and gets old quickly.
Blinking Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]