by CJ Streetman
Lazer Team is the first feature film by Rooster Teeth Productions, a more than decade old entertainment company
famous for the groundbreaking Red vs Blue series. The film earned its place in the public eye for being the most crowdfunded film of all time, earning over 2.4 million dollars through Indiegogo.
Lazer Team tells the story of four small-town idiots who stumble upon a suit of alien armor and accidentally become the champions of Earth, forcing them to prepare for a long-awaited alien threat. The film, directed by Matt Hullum, stays securely within Rooster Teeth’s roundhouse of talents, sci-fi comedy, and is genuinely one of the funniest movies of the past year.
The leads all performed beautifully despite the characters themselves being fairly flat or one-note. Zach (Michael Jones) is the dumb, entitled jock, Hagan (Burnie Burns) is the small town cop, Herman (Colton Dunn) is the has-been football star, and Woody (Gavin Free) is a dumb hick. Each character gets plenty of time in the spotlight to really show what depth they do have, and all establish themselves as genuinely funny characters. Despite Burns, Jones, and Free’s acting experience being limited to, admittedly talented, voice acting and work in RT Shorts and series, the three truly shine, while Dunn proves his comedic and acting talent once again.
These characters never stray too far away from these stereotypes, but strap alien weaponry to them and make them try to work together and the comedy and interactions just click.
The real standouts of the cast are Alan Ritchison and Michael Jones. Ritchison delivers a surprisingly emotional and genuinely captivating performance as Adam, the would-be hero of Earth, who now has to train the morons who stole his birthright.
Jones, for his part, plays one of the most convincing douchebags of modern cinema. In one of Zach’s establishing scenes we see him crash an opposing football team’s party, declaring “I won, they’re all my parties,” start a brawl, and ultimately punch a cop in the face before laughing it all off. It’s impossible to see this movie and not think, “I’ve met this prick.”
The story starts out seeming fairly straight forward, but evolves act by act into an incredibly engaging and surprising narrative.
The comedy is classic Rooster Teeth, effortlessly mixing ridiculous slapstick, cleverness, and crude comedy. Despite the seemingly cookie-cutter characters, the comedy never feels stale, and more than a few moments had me laughing hard enough to require pausing the movie. Some of the jokes even come across as subtle (pay attention to Woody when they put the suits on). There are very few Rooster Teeth references as well, making the whole experience very accessible to any viewer.
The action and special effects of Lazer Team are some of the more surprising aspects of the movie. The action sequences are never handled with straight-faced seriousness, and where they find themselves lacking weight on an action level, it is absolutely made up in comedy.
The special effects hold their own for the most part. Aside from one or two less than impressive moments, the CG is done very well. Anyone familiar with Gavin Free’s work as one of the Slow Mo Guys will be completely unsurprised to find that the use of slow motion is both abundant and beautiful in Lazer Team.
Throughout the entire film, the cinematography is very impressive. The shots always successfully emphasize the tone of the current scene to tremendous effect. The best example of this is the first time Herman attempts to use his boots in earnest and the rapid shift from a dynamic and beautiful shot to an unflattering and straight-faced shot is simply brilliant.
In a finding-the-Holy-Grail-level miracle, Lazer Team ultimately feels like a 102 minute RT short, without ever feeling like it should have been a YouTube video (looking at you, Smosh: The Movie). This is in large part thanks to Hullum’s excellent directing that combines the technical skill of an experienced director with the smart, focused direction that he has perfected over more than a decade with RT.
The absolute only other weak points on a technical level are a couple of overly cheesy moments, like one moment in which a character deliberately stares down the camera, that really took me away from the experience.
The level of care that is immediately apparent in all of these elements is what has always set RT in a league apart from many other entertainment companies rising in the age of YouTube, and once again, they do not disappoint.
A welcome relief from the constant slice-of-life comedies that have been inundating the box office for so long, Lazer Team focuses heavily on its sci-fi elements without ever sacrificing the chance to make a joke, while still crafting a plot that will keep you guessing.
It’s a brilliant freshman effort by Rooster Teeth Productions and, for a movie operating at about 2% the budget of its triple-a competitors, Lazer Team genuinely earns its place on the silver screen, and is bound to become a cult classic in its own right.
+Laugh-out-loud funny throughout
+Beautiful camera work
+Surprisingly engaging story
+Accessible to all audiences
+Brief cameo by The Joy of Painting
+Great chemistry between actors and characters
-Aside from a few brief moments, very little emotional depth
-CG lacks weight in some instances
-A few overly cheesy moments
Originally posted on January 25, 2016