Cinema

This joke's on you

The Sajids (producer Nadiadwala and director Khan) virtually declared war on film critics by setting a historic precedent. They not just refused to have a press screening for reviewers but also went on record giving reasons for their decision — nature of the film's genre, effect of premature criticism on its business, advent of Twitter fuelling word-of-mouth bad reviews, etc.

Once you watch Housefull, you realise that's what any smart filmmaker would do. No sarcasm there. Seriously, Housefull is an inspired escapist, borderline plagiarised, no-holds-barred, silly slapstick comedy that does not even pretend to have a plot, let alone logic or plausibility.

Many of the jokes are forced in, the filmmaker trying to milk the ridiculousness of situational comedy for as many laughs as possible per minute even if it means letting characters slap each other for no reason at all.

While critics revel in taking on films like these and more so, given the public display of arrogance, reviewers seem to have ridiculed the film for all the wrong reasons. Housefull has got plenty of flak for being a crude, sexist, offensive comedy. Like that's a bad thing.

Though comedies such as American Pie, Dumb and Dumber, Road Trip and The Hangover have been celebrated as cult classics, the genre still remains in the domain of low-brow entertainment and filmmakers attempting it here are the favourite whipping boys of critics. Most of it has to do with plagiarised plots, situations and even lines, though the makers in some cases have gone ahead and acquired the rights to remake the film (while continuing to take credit for Story, Screenplay and Dialogues).

Housefull is a classic case study of factors plaguing comedy in India, despite the emergence of Judd Apatow's unapologetically offensive films as a legitimate sub-genre.

So if these overtly sexist films are accepted and embraced by men and even women of late at an International level, why can't we laugh when Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh decide to do a Ben Stiller gag?

Here's why. Originality factors apart, these adaptations are just not funny enough. While Housefull provides a considerable number of laughs in the second half, there are also a considerable number of jokes that fall flat all through the film.

Within the film's first few minutes, we learn that Akshay Kumar plays a loser who brings bad luck to all around him and hence, is employed by a Casino that wants to make sure all their clients lose their money. If you are wondering how the Casino remains unaffected by his bad luck, you ought to get out of that movie hall when you still can. This is not your kind of film.

The loser then decides to stay at his best buddy's place in London only to get married to the wrong girl (who does a Heartbreak Kid on him during their honeymoon in Italy) and falls in love with another girl (while Forgetting his Sarah Marshall) and in the second half of the film, needs to Meet The Parents… Or the Brother in this case, who is the same suspicious brother borrowed from Right Bed, Wrong Husband (last adapted in Ajay Devgn's All The Best). The makers also find time to recycle gay jokes from Kal Ho Na Ho and Dostana.

Yes, the guys are cool and the women are totally hot when they are prancing around in bikinis. But with barely an original bone in its skeletal story outline, Housefull at best works in bits and starts as a series of inspired gags — many forced and a few spontaneous. Hate it as much as you want but you will find it impossible to stifle a laugh.

Watch it only if you are forgiving and don't mind junk food for the thoughtless.

Housefull

Genre: Comedy

Director: Sajid Khan

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padukone, Lara Dutta, Jiah Khan, Chunkey Pandey, Randhir Kapoor

Storyline: A jinxed loser moves in with his best friend and wife hoping to reverse his spate of bad luck only to trigger off a comedy of errors

Bottomline: What do you get if you take the worst of Ben Stiller films, add sequences from Right Bed, Wrong Husband (Previously seen in All The Best), sprinkle gay jokes from Kal Ho Na Ho and slap it with offensive humour, quite literally




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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 10:15:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/This-jokes-on-you/article11637089.ece

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