Review: ‘Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show’ likable but overlong
AP Movie Critic
“Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights ” Hollywood to the Heartland” is only sporadically wild, but it does indeed go through some Western states. It also ends up feeling about as long and draggy as the title itself.
Vaughn had a clever idea, though, in amassing a group of little-known comics and taking them on a tour across the country, hitting cities like Lubbock, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark., between Los Angeles and his hometown of Chicago.
We get to know the divergent personalities of Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco both onstage and on the tour bus. We hear their stories of struggling to make it in the grueling business of stand-up and we meet their families, which allows for a bit more emotional investment than you would achieve from a straight-up comedy concert film.
Ahmed, who was born in Egypt but moved with his family to California when he was an infant, draws biting humor from his experiences living as an Arab in the United States post-9/11. The acerbic Caparulo, with his rapid-fire delivery, finds inspiration in his working-class Ohio upbringing.
And Vaughn himself shows his humble, vulnerable side, something we rarely see from the star of “Swingers” and “Wedding Crashers” who’s made his name with a fast-paced, smart-alecky wit. The tour, which took place during fall 2005, includes a stop at a shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which also provides an unlikely heavy turn.
But while the comedians are likable, their routines tend to be hit and miss, and director Ari Sandel probably didn’t need to show us every single stop along the way. “Wild West” would have worked nicely if it had been about an hour long and appeared on late-night cable.
The four comics, all of whom Vaughn plucked from L.A.’s Comedy Store, have been close friends for years and consistently get along well. Vaughn, meanwhile, has known Ahmed since 1990, when the two appeared in an after-school special about steroids that also featured Peter Billingsley, the star of “A Christmas Story” who’s an executive producer on “Wild West.” (Vaughn describes Billingsley as his best friend, and the two get some laughs during the tour when they re-enact the same corny dialogue from all those years ago.)
Other pals from Vaughn’s career show up at various stops and liven up the act, including his “Swingers” co-star Jon Favreau, Justin Long from “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” and Keir O’Donnell, who played the gay brother who was obsessed with Vaughn’s character in “Wedding Crashers.” (Dwight Yoakam is a welcome sight in Bakersfield, and it would have been nice to see him perform more than once.)
So in other words, there’s no tension, nothing dramatic that sucks you in. Not that it needed reality TV-style contrived confrontations, but these guys are all buddies and all is well. And that’s a little boring. The worst thing that happens is that the bus reeks by the end of the tour after all those miles, with all that manhood crammed into a small space, making the fellas a little cranky.
But who could blame them for that? Besides, they’ll be able to work it into their material someday.
“Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights ” Hollywood to the Heartland,” a Picturehouse release, is rated R for pervasive language and some sex-related humor. Running time: 100 minutes. Two stars out of four.