Whenever you see a movie that you’ve been waiting to see for a while, you develop certain expectations. Those expectations can make or break a movie depending on how realistic they are. Lazer Team is no exception, perhaps more so than most films I’ve seen. When you’re a big fan of the people behind a movie, but also keenly aware of whether or not something is good, it can create this odd conflict of interest when it comes to forming an opinion about it. In this case, Lazer Team is the first feature-length film by production company Rooster Teeth. If you’ve read my blog then you know I am a pretty big fan of their work. It is all too easy as a fan to simply say “that was incredible, need to see it again now”. We sometimes forget that the reason we’re critical of the media we consume is that if everything was amazing nothing would be better than the rest. So at this point, I should stop writing this review immediately and just write something else. However, in the spirit of “the most competent incompetence” that our four heroes clearly display in Lazer Team, I’m not going to stop. While it’s not without its faults, Lazer Team is a smart, funny movie with some nice touches reminiscent of 80s sci-fi. That and dick jokes, lots of dick jokes.
That 80s flavour come through in the plot. Earth is told that suit of alien technology is coming for the “Champion of Earth” to don before conflict arrives. Having received this message well in advance of said conflict, the military has prepared for its arrival and is ready to save the planet. They just didn’t take into account the four idiots who manage to shoot down the spaceship with the suit in it and take pieces of the suit for themselves. All by accident of course. From there it essentially boils down to these unlikely heroes against all odds learning to work together to save the day.
What Lazer Team does best is telling a story that we’ve heard in one way or another but keeps it surprisingly fresh. It makes fun of itself in the best possible way and also pokes fun at sci-fi tropes that are dominant in the genre. Dick jokes mix with intelligent humour in a balance that is classic Rooster Teeth. If I had a main complaint about the film’s story is the ending. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that while it ends as you expect movies like this too, I can’t help but feel that it was surprisingly rushed. But perhaps when you’re laughing this much you’re disappointed when it seems over all too soon, no matter how long it is.
Backing the hilarity is some pretty good performances from several not formally trained actors, in addition to the professionals. Burnie Burns, Michael Jones, Gavin Free, and Colton Dunn play the four
hapless idiots heroes of Lazer Team, and all do an excellent job delivering the laughs and rising to the odd occasion when a slightly more serious attitude is required. You’re not getting award-winning performances, but that’s not the point when you’re dealing with a movie about aliens, jerking off, and explosions.
Considering that film didn’t have the largest of budgets to work; most of the funds coming from loyal Rooster Teeth fans in a record-breaking IndieGoGo campaign, the production value of the film is very impressive. While you can tell where money was specifically spent, Director Matt Hullum and his crew have done a (pardon the pun) stellar job of giving the audience a film that looks slick and well shot.
As far as debut feature-length films go, Lazer Team is pretty good. Great, even. The writing is sharp, and the film looks fantastic in spite of being a crowd-funded feature. Not only will fans of Rooster Teeth love the film with its subtle nods to other RT projects, but fans of good comedy and geek culture will enjoy this too. It’s an homage to 80s sci-fi but has enough clever little twists to keep it interesting. Throw in a mix of wit and low-brow humour and you get a film that both does and doesn’t feel like a Rooster Teeth production, which is the best possible outcome.