‘Unhealthy Journey’ overview: Eric Andre makes a humorous if humdrum leap

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The factor about critiquing virtually any comic is that you’ll inevitably end up arising in opposition to avid (if not rabid) followers insistent that you just simply don’t “get” the work. Eric Andre particularly, together with his trademark Dadaist impulses and penchant for all issues uncomfortably nude, is undoubtedly a kind of figures. Those that take pleasure in his surreal and animated model of guffaws will likely be fast to defend the comic, citing his capacity to deconstruct staid notions of late-night tv and bland stand-up together with his long-running Grownup Swim sequence “The Eric Andre Present.”

However, his detractors would rightfully level to Andre’s historical past of transphobic, fatphobic, and myriad different jokes which serve solely to punch down at sure people who, one may argue, have already been punched down on sufficient.

Which is why “Unhealthy Journey,” the long-awaited hidden-camera comedy flick helmed by long-time “Eric Andre Present” director Kitao Sakurai, is such a curious movie. Ostensibly a buddy street film following Chris Carey (Andre, additionally a co-writer) and greatest pal Bud Malone (Lil Rel Howery) as they journey cross-country to New York, “Unhealthy Journey” appears to pay attention to these criticisms of Andre and the way in which during which they’d be additional seen in a wide-release film (now launching on Netflix). The soar from Grownup Swim to characteristic movie has been accompanied by a watering down of Andre’s unpredictable absurdities and as a substitute presents a way more standard method to its prankster schematics.

Tiffany Haddish stands, wearing orange overalls

Tiffany Haddish within the film “Unhealthy Journey.”

(Dimitry Elyashkevich / Netflix)

The laughs are definitely there, however Andre’s virtually trademark sense of intentional derangement is lacking and in some ways, that is considered one of his strengths as a performer. Positive, there are the juvenile gags that type most of the movie’s comedic centerpieces — a scene involving boisterous gorilla intercourse involves thoughts as considered one of a number of moments that makes an attempt to faucet into Andre’s chaotic vitality however fizzles out, leaving as a substitute the unhealthy style of an apparent, if not adolescent, bit. Whereas for some this model of failure may solely deepen their appreciation for Andre and the methods during which they view him as a kind of anti-comedian, it’s additionally crucial to do not forget that the phrase anti-comedy shouldn’t act as a synonym for shallow, empty or inconsiderate.

The movie loosely entwines its real-world pranks with an overarching story that is aware of itself to be a farce, however can’t assist however be burdened by its halfhearted tries at sincerity. Andre isn’t a robust sufficient actor to tug this explicit positioning off however then once more, that’s something however the level right here. Even inside that, the slack nature of “Unhealthy Journey’s” premise is sufficient to put in increased aid each the successes and failures of the comedy’s gags. The previous has a pointy capacity to see the innately comedic textures of humanity (additional seen within the movie’s pleasant post-credits sequence), whereas the latter is just too staged and likewise rigidly edited (significantly towards the movie’s entrance finish which too usually takes on the tonality of a warm-up).

For a cornier, extra institution sort of comic, the type of story setting emblematic of those failures could be par for the course however for an iconoclast like Andre, the misses right here might be obvious — I doubt even his most stringent detractors would truthfully be capable to name Andre a mediocre or common performer. Which is why it’s so disappointing that “Unhealthy Journey” falls simply as simply into humdrum ordinariness as a lot because it does its most straightforward and efficient bits.

Andre’s influences have all the time been clear, from Sacha Baron Cohen to Tom Inexperienced to the “Jackass” bunch, however they battle within the current when confronted with Andre’s transfer from surrealism to literalism. Not like oft-cited inspiration and Borat star Cohen, Andre’s earlier world-making has been precisely out of this world, if not an entire undoing and deflation of it. Whereas he is ready to elevate the on a regular basis to the extent of the comedic by means of a extra even-keeled but efficient model of absurdity right here, there’s a sure diploma of influence lacking that may will likely be anticipated given the star. Whereas Howery gives the right foil to Andre’s Chris and Tiffany Haddish (right here enjoying Bud’s prison-breaking sister, Trina Malone) is, as all the time, nothing however an skilled improviser (and arguably the explanation to see “Unhealthy Journey”), it’s Andre’s unusual flip to actuality which can depart audiences trying to find extra.

All of this mentioned and carried out, if it makes you snigger (and I imply actually makes you snigger) because it usually did me, that may be salve sufficient.

‘Unhealthy Journey’

Rated: R, for crude sexual content material, pervasive language, some graphic nudity and drug use

Working time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Taking part in: Obtainable March 26 on Netflix

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