The Onion Movie (2008)

(On DVD, June 2008) After years of being hidden on studio shelves, the long-rumored The Onion Movie has finally been quietly released on DVD and the final result is… uneven. Blame the structure of the film for some of the problems: The screenwriters have chosen to build the movie as a series of sketches loosely held together by a dull story about corporate interference at a news network. (The ending, which tries to bring it all together, is far too long for its own good.) Some sketches are better, and some of them aren’t (the whole “rape mystery party”, for instance, is a long resounding thud.) But I suspect that the fault is also due to the source material: The Onion’s usual shtick is to present the punchline first in the headline, then work out its implications in the following article. This works in a scannable medium like text, but it’s deadly on-screen. Here, whole sequences drag on and on until the final joke: The “Wizards and Warlords” segment is particularly awful in this regard. It’s too bad, really, because the production values of the film are surprisingly good and a lot of the material does work –including a slickly-produced cute/raunchy take-off on Britney Spears which, along with the Rodney Dangerfield cameo, shows the late-2003 origins of the film. Like its source material, the film isn’t afraid to let loose with profanity, violence and glimpses of graphic gay sex: This is one of those movies that really tries to offend everyone. (Including movie reviewers, in amusing self-referential segments.) It’s a bit of a problem that the “deleted scenes” on the DVD are just as good, or bad, as the rest of the film. Otherwise, well, it’s a curious rental for those who already like The Onion. And frankly, it’s still far better than stuff like Epic Movie.

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