I don’t do reviews often, but I for some reason feel an investment in Lazer Team. I used to watch Rooster Teeth’s YouTube content every day a few years ago and when they announced that they were making Lazer Team it looked like a return to form for them after their regular content diverged. I loved their content, but slowly, as their company developed and was bought by Maker, I watched less and less, the last series that I gave up being their MineCraft let’s plays.
Rooster Teeth started to diversify their audience, and with that came a drop in quality in the videos. I feel like they were trying to appeal to “teenagers” in general without really selecting a demographic of them, while they used to specifically make content for nerds and was very successful at it. They became the YouTube equivalent of pop music; you listen to it and recognise it, and some people claim to really like it, but there’s no depth. One specific thing that confuses me is Sportsball. I have to say that, while I am trying to restrain my judgement, who the fuck is Sportsball made for?
Sportsball is a podcast about “sports.” Not one sport in particular, but all sports that the cast are interested in. However, the cast is made up of a bunch of nerds who people watch for comedy, not for in depth sports analysis and, forgive me for thinking in stereotypes, but I don’t think there is a lot of overlap between people who play a lot of video games and would watch RT’s content and people who play a lot of sports.
But what does this have to do with Lazer Team? Well, it all feeds into how Lazer Team presents itself. Lazer Team was crowd-funded and raised $2.5 million to make the film. People wanted a film about Rooster Teeth personalities going on an adventure with aliens and that’s pretty much what they got, which leaves a lot to be desired.
The official blurb on IMDB states “Four losers are thrust into the position of saving the world when they stumble upon a UFO crash site and become genetically equipped to the battle suit on board.” I actually think that dumbs down the plot, even though the plot is inherently a bit stupid. Nonetheless, this is not what should put you off.
Where do I start? The writing is probably a good place. Written by two familiar names for Rooster Teeth fans: Matt Hullum and Burnie Burns, along with another two lesser-known Rooster Teeth personality: Chris Demarais and Josh Flanagan, it has the sarcastic, insulting and vulgar humour that fans expected. You get the feeling, when it talks about the “big picture” and things like the fate of the world that they are somehow mocking themselves, which certainly is in keeping with how the film wants to feel. That said, there are a number of parts where it feels the script is trying too hard.
One liners fall flat. Jokes feel forced and, most importantly, you feel like a lot of the time the fourth wall is being broken but not intentionally. A lot of the jokes are made specifically for the benefit of the audience rather than fitting in with what is happening on screen and, all in all, if makes it feel like the script is a little bit flabby. It needs trimming down to get rid of the unnecessary baggage. However, the problem with that is it would make an already short film even shorter.
It might have been a bit better had the acting been done by professional actors. This film needed Rooster Teeth personalities in it to make it a success, and to keep costs low, but, as a result, it didn’t feel like they were playing a character, they were just extending their on screen personalities to the film. It makes the acting feel half-baked, even though the actors from outside the company are trying to make this B-movie as good as it could be. One bone I have to pick in particular though; Gavin Free is forced into doing an American accent for a good portion of the film and it made me want him not to speak. It wasn’t funny, it was just bad and, frankly, I felt a little bit sorry for the crew who had to suffer through his blunders.
Frankly, I think I wanted to punch all the characters at some point. Perhaps I should say character however, since there is only one. All of them are sarcastic, middle aged white dudes with one character trait that separates them. Hagan is a hard-ass, Zack likes partying, Woody is stupid. Well, abnormally stupid, the rest of them are just pushing a regular 70 IQ points, and Herman is fat and blames Hagan for ruining his life. I think this could be forgiven if I got the impression they were stock characters but I know for a fact they weren’t. I think, when coming up with the characters, there were a lot of things they could have been, but they decided to go with these ones because they were the easiest to make jokes with.
I was trying to be positive about this film because I do think it’s enjoyable to watch, it’s just not good. That quote is never going to make it onto the front of any DVD but that’s as accurately as I can put it. The premise, the writing, the plot, the characters; none of them are as stupid or ridiculous as I thought but they’re not as good as I thought they’d be as well. It’s not even an especially funny film. It has its moments but I didn’t come away from it in stitches. It’s indicative of how Rooster Teeth is as a company now, all the while parading as the good-old-days before the Let’s Play channel and Sportsball. It’s thinly spread and eked out to try and appeal to broadest possible audience while, counterintuitively, appealing to no one because of what Rooster Teeth actually is as a company. As a result, I really can’t recommend Lazer Team to anyone unless you are a diehard fan of Rooster Teeth.