Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story
Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
Improv can be a blessing or a curse. At best, it grounds the comedy in the characters and unlocks material that can't be dreamt up at a keyboard. But at worst, as in this low-budget mockumentary, it can result in a jokelessness, a movie that's amusing but rarely funny. And that's not even considering the meandering plot, which forgets characters, conflicts, and even the central arc of the main character. Blackballed is well-acted by its improv experts, who often get intense with their weirdo personalities, but it could have benefitted from a few more sharp zingers being written in advance for when scenes have trouble getting off the ground, and it would help if the main character was a stronger presence instead of merely playing witness to the oddballs around him. Paintball fans might enjoy the film because of its subject matter, although the three scenes of actual combat are difficult to follow in terms of who shot who and who's still on the battlefield. Blackballed comes off fairly slick for its budget and manages to be consistently amusing, but it's a dysfunctional underachiever that fails to score any big laughs.
Kris Weberg: I tend to think from your review that this generally points up the ambivalence I have for many of the Daily Show/Uptight Citizens Brigade comedians, who rely on a mixture of absurdist humor and "discomfort" gags of the Candid Camera variety. It just doesn't translate well into original, sustained storytelling.
The Daily SHow works because the story is already there, in reality, and the writers and performers simply have to highlight the inherent absurdities and add a few of their own; the UCB manages it by using short sketch formats. But it just isn't the kind of character comedy that even Saturday Night Live's weaker efforts at least aspire to. − September 17, 2006 more by Kris