Rooster Teeth, the Austin-based production company behind such hit YouTube channels as Achievement Hunter and The Slow Mo Guys, have provided me with countless hours of entertainment over the years. So, while I can only call myself a casual fan at this juncture, I just had to purchase a ticket for their latest endeavour, big screen sci-fi action comedy Lazer Team, to pay them back for over a decade’s worth of laughs.
Image courtesy of Rooster Teeth.
I’m saddened to say this feature-length effort from director Matt Hullum isn’t really up to snuff. We’re on familiar ground plot-wise. An alien race makes contact with Earth only to inform us that we’re at risk from extra-terrestrial beasties. To help prepare the planet for the upcoming fight, the aliens send down an all-powerful battle suit to be worn by the so-called ‘Champion of Earth’ (Alan Ritchson). The pod carrying said armour is then shot down by a quartet of losers (RT stalwarts Burnie Burns, Michael Jones and Gavin Free, with the addition of Colton Dunn) who each take a piece for themselves. The four of them must then overcome their differences and work as a team to defeat the incoming hordes.
Truth be told, I don’t see this playing all that well beyond the core, albeit considerable, fanbase. The broad narrative is sprinkled with a handful of Rooster Teeth faces in humorous cameos, but only the fans will spot them. Likewise, some of RT’s trademark wit does occasionally poke its head out above the derivative toilet humour, but far too infrequently.
I've a feeling even the tens of thousands of fans who donated to the film’s record-breaking crowdfunding campaign won’t view this as an all-round success. The audience I watched the film with were game and laughed along pleasantly, but it certainly didn’t seem to be the rip-roaring success it could have been.
It’s a shame because I know these guys are better than this. As I said, select one-liners stand proud amongst the cheap shots and there are a couple of instances of visual ambition (cool drone shots and time-lapse details), as well as a nice little third act twist, but there just isn't enough of Rooster Teeth’s distinct charm in their feature debut. There will be more big-screen outings to come from the YouTube giants, but while they took great leaps forward in terms of the financing and the pioneering release of this first attempt, Lazer Team only acts as a minimal stepping stone cinematically.
I will always have a place in my heart for the Rooster Teeth crew and Lazer Team was undoubtedly a huge success story behind the scenes, it’s just a shame they couldn’t have done more in front of the camera.