The Last Laugh focuses on Al (Chevy Chase) trying to convince his old client Buddy (Richard Dreyfuss) to get back into doing stand-up comedy. What follows is a basic road-trip set up where the two friends travel around and perform at comedy shows. The premise of a retired comedian struggling to get back into stand-up after a long absence and rediscovering his craft sounds like it has potential to be not just a good source for comedy, but it also sounds like a good amount of emotional weight could be presented within that story as well.
Director Greg Pritikin says that the big theme of the film was “embracing the present”, and that’s a message that I can totally get behind and would love to support. What I’m trying to get at is I don’t think this premise (or this premise with these actors for that matter) was doomed from the start at all, and I appreciate what the director’s intentions and goals were. This is why it doesn’t give me pleasure to report that while The Last Laugh has good intentions, it’s unfortunately comes across as a very dry, unfunny and ultimately hollow comedy.
I realized about a half-hour into the film that Richard Dreyfuss’s early introductory scene was still the funniest thing that had happened so far, and I really think that he is the film’s strongest element. I’m probably not going to remember his character by the end of 2019, but there is a sense of energy and eagerness found in the actor’s performance here that you just won’t find from any of his other co-stars. I almost wondered if the film was going to become incredibly meta and get genuinely funnier and smarter as Buddy’s stand-up routine gained more and more success, but no such luck.
Chevy Chase, on the other hand, kind of looks like he doesn’t wanna be there. Granted, there isn’t a ton of material that he has to work with in the screenplay, but Richard had to work with the same script and he did an okay job, so I don’t see much of a reason to cut Chevy some slack on this one. The chemistry between the two actors isn’t awful, but it’s not particularly memorable from a dramatic or comedic stand point.
The soundtrack is the film’s worst offender, at least as far as I’m concerned. It’s the most obnoxiously fluffy and intrusive score I’ve heard in ages, and while I wasn’t expecting the film to have a great or even all that good soundtrack, I was surprised by just how it’s presence brought the already-bland film down into the depths of musical hell. Truthfully, most people who aren’t as into Soundtracks might not even take notice of the music. but I would be remise if I didn’t at least give it a mention here.
I apologize for the long absence from this blog, but I’m planning on writing a review for every 2019 film that I see. Some will be long, others will be short, but I’m confident that the quality will pick up with each review. As for The Last Laugh, there’s not much here. While not a hateable film, Both actors have been in far better material, and the road trip concept has been stronger in other comedies as well. I can appreciate the well-meaning message, but the execution just didn’t cut it.