AFF: 'Modern Imbecile's Planet World'

Austin Film Festival 'Planet World' preview.

AFF: 'Modern Imbecile's Planet World'

It takes mad skills to fashion an absurdist buddy comedy that references, in no particular order and in some cases possibly not even intentionally (but still...), Star Trek, Waiting for Godot, Ray Romano, Planet of the Apes, the Challenger Disaster, and sketchy scatological triple-entendres. It takes, in fact, a Modern Imbecile, or two.

Funny or Die comedy outfit Modern Imbecile makes the leap from the browser to the big(ger) screen with hardly a hitch and manages to flesh out a skeletal premise with enough inspired non sequiturs to choke William Shatner.

Director Doug Manley and Kevin Brennan cast themselves as two hapless television actors who believe they're stranded on a desolate planet after they inadvertently blow up the space shuttle they're riding in. They're wandering around the Mojave Desert, actually, but Manley and Brennan (the characters have the same names as the actors playing them) could be anywhere. The aimlessness of their plight borders on the existential, but trying to deconstruct the laugh lines here is even more hopeless. The point is to wander, dropping the occasional insight into the fractured, narcissistic personalities of these two clowns, while mocking the very clichés that hold the whole thing together.

That's a lot tougher than it sounds, especially when there's no straight man, but Brennan (the stocky one) and Manley (the manly one) nail it with asinine aplomb and come up with the most quotable line of the fest thus far in the process: "Ever since we got on this godforsaken rock all we've done is sweat, and bled, and vomited...the only body of food we haven't given up is our dude seed."

Why is that funny? We're still not sure we know the answer to that one, but we do know we almost choked on our Tecaté when we heard it. Comedy gold, baby, comedy gold.

Modern Imbecile's Planet World screens Saturday, Oct. 23, 3 pm at Swivel Theater, Austin Convention Center, and Wednesday, Oct. 27, 10 pm, at the Alamo Lake Creek.

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