Sunday, 24 April 2016

Natural Born Pranksters

Sometimes I despair at what cinema is becoming. Strong, original material is a dying breed and usually reserved for Oscar season, and so for the majority of the year we have some pretty awful films knocking around. Remakes, reboots, unnecessary sequels, cheesy blockbusters…It’s a sad state of affairs, isn’t it? But in recent years, a new threat has come to Hollywood - giving YouTubers their own f*cking films. We’ve had a few now and they’ve all been shit. Natural Born Pranksters, which is out now on DVD, is no exception.

Natural Born Pranksters follows Roman Atwood, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy and Dennis Roady being arseholes for 90 minutes. Anyone who knows these guys’ videos know that they’ve made a living out of this, ‘pranking’ people and laughing hysterically at their antics. But for a film of this to work, it has to do something to separate itself from their YouTube videos. It doesn’t. It’s not shot on cinematic cameras, it’s not structured in any way like a ‘film’ - it is just a series of poor-quality pranks and footage of the guys obnoxiously laughing. And the worst part? In the past few years, a lot of these guys’ YouTube videos have been exposed as fake. This film continues that trend – anyone with half a brain will be able to realise that this is all staged. The victims are clearly actors, hamming it up with their over-the-top forced reactions to the ‘pranks’. So what is the point?

Watching staged pranks for 90 minutes? Well, at least it’s funny. Wait…NO! It isn’t. The pranks aren’t even remotely entertaining or amusing in the first place! Clearly aimed at 12-year old boys and twisted sociopaths, the pranks range from ridiculously juvenile to uncomfortably dark and bad taste. The film opens on a series of ‘pranks’ in which one of our three natural born twats is fitted with a fake erection under a towel, which springs to life when he’s serviced by ‘unsuspecting’ masseuses – one of whom is an ageing man who strips down to his underwear when he notices this…excitement. And we’re supposed to believe that’s legit. The film starts as it means to go on, with more of the same childish shit which is met with hysterical laughter from the 3 guys. One sequence involves them rubbing shit all over a blank canvas. Quite a good metaphor…if the canvas represents cinema.

This is just an awful ‘film’. It tries far too hard but fails every step of the way. Each poorly performed ‘prank’ is completely standalone with nothing linking any of them together, and there is no effective transitioning between them. If you’re the sort of person who likes this kind of shit, don’t bother with the film – just watch an unspecific handful of their YouTube videos. That is basically what this film is. At least films like Bad Grandpa have something that resemble a narrative structure over all of the nonsense. And poor editing throughout also allows for goofs – mistakes are visible, the sound just feels amateur. You expect this from YouTube, not from a Hollywood film. Get it together, guys.

Natural Born Pranksters is a poorly-made bunch of chaotic, manufactured scenes that insult the viewer’s intelligence and, hell, they insult cinema itself. Roman Atwood, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy and Dennis Roady might be nice enough guys in real life but together, in this film, they’re obnoxious, childish tools that should never have been given a movie deal. And when you consider that a sequel is apparently in the works, this new YouTuber threat against cinema is clearly picking up steam. Orson Welles is turning in his grave.

Natural Born Pranksters is a despicable, bad-natured, unfunny and forced pile of shit. Avoid it like the plague. 0/5.


Sam Love
Natural Born Pranksters at CeX

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