The Last Laugh - Review

It's not a good thing when you get exactly what you think you are going to get out of a movie due to what service it is on. But The Last Laugh is Netflix's newest original film, and it is as formulaic and stale as you would expect.

Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss are film legends. But it was kind of sad to see them like this. They are the only reason to watch though. Chase plays retired talent manager Al Hart and Dreyfuss a retired comedian named Buddy Green, and they both decide to go cross country on the road again.

The movie would have benefited if they switched roles. If Chase could lean into his strengths of being a bit wacky on stage, and Dreyfuss could play the lost manager who doesn't know what to do without work, the film would automatically work better.

The story is all over the place too. It could have been a great story about a man making amends. It wasn't. It could have been a great odd love story. It wasn't. It could have been a great friendship road trip comedy. It wasn't. It tried to be all three of these, and was just lackluster versions of them.

The entire movie, the two guys are obsessed with getting a spot on the Tonight Show. They even make a Carson/Leno/Fallon joke. Instead the movie shifts to this subplot about Ed Sullivan that is never really explained, and then the movie ends exactly where you think, except the way it got there was really weird. That is after it completely abandons Fallon, and goes full steam ahead to Colbert and the Ed Sullivan theater instead.

In between all of that, there is a weird 'shroom hallucination scene that feels out of place. The Last Laugh has an identity crisis, and can never get out from under that.

There are some pretty heartfelt moments that land, but then quickly evaporate. When we get to see the comedy performed on stage, that is a highlight too, but it is few and far between.

The old people jokes are easy. So is the racial humor. While some of it makes sense in context, it takes away from the character depth that they could explore. We have to be told why Buddy Green is sad when someone at his community dies. That is a rich thread that could have lingered throughout the movie. But it doesn't. It is quickly used to make the story happen, it isn't part of the story. There are also gags abandoned halfway through (the mascara bit, for instance). It is like the movie was made on the fly, and things were day to day.

Chevy Chase is in some of my favorite movies of all time, so is Richard Dreyfuss. To see them like this was disheartening at best, and depressing at worst. I mean, Drefuss turns out a wonderful performance, but the material is so lackluster that it is not how you want to remember him. Go put on Close Encounters Of The Third Kind or Jaws instead.

There are things to enjoy here, if you have a high tolerance for a story being sloppy and disregarding details. The Last Laugh is like the bread that comes before your meal. It's fine, but it isn't the reason you went there, nor is it what you ordered.

Try it for yourself though, maybe you'll find more to enjoy in it than I did.

The Last Laugh is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.


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