Based on the best selling book by Dave Barry.
Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry guides us through the cultural and emotional landscape of what it is to be a Guy. From the dawn of guys straight through to modern life, we’ll learn about the common everyday things that have tormented guys forever: Sports Concerns, Hardware Concerns, Public Restroom Concerns, and more.
eyelights: its irreverence. its cameos. its production quality.
eyesores: its corny humour. its clichés. its lack insight or cleverness.
“Guys are like your older brother. Men are like your dad.”
I’ve never read Dave Barry’s popular 1996 book ‘Complete Guide to Guys’. In fact, Dave Barry is barely on my radar; I vaguely remember seeing some of his collections around, likely at the library, but I don’t know much else about him.
So why in the world did I pick up the low budget movie version of his book? Why would I watch a DVD called ‘Complete Guide to Guys’?
Was I trying to understand males?
Was I trying to understand myself?
Was I looking for insight?
Was I looking for laughs?
I’m not sure. I really wish I knew.
But, if it was any of the above, then the experience has been a miserable failure: I’m now no further ahead than I was in the beginning.
Heck, I didn’t even really laugh.
(Though I did chuckle.)
Frankly, I think that the answer may rest with John Cleese. Surely I must’ve seen his name and decided that his cameo would be worth it. Though his post-‘A Fish Called Wanda‘ record has been lackluster I may have decided to give him a chance.
In ‘Complete Guide…’, Cleese plays a behavioural scientist, a doctor with a fake mustache, a social scientist with huge beard, and an orthopedic surgeon with a weird wig. These short bits consist of his characters commenting on the subject at hand.
It’s silly, but fun.
The rest of picture consists of Dave Barry hosting a series of vignettes based on various chapters in his book, each of which poke fun at the many stereotypes of manhood, including male-female relationships. Essentially, it’s a collection of related skits.
Each of them feature a recurring cast and follow a protagonist of sorts in Roger (as played by Lochlyn Munro) through all the many hurdles that come with being a guy. Not a man. A guy. There’s a notable difference between the two, Barry says.
Guys are immature, proud, uncommunicative, sex-obsessed creatures who are fascinated with cars, sports, video games and tools. In contrast, women are the voice of reason when/if there are dialogues between them – though they’re imperfect too.
The picture is deeply-rooted in clichés, with both men and women served up as caricatures. It’s hardly surprising, really, but I still would have preferred something a bit more sophisticated or nuanced as it would have delivered smarter laughs.
Instead we got lazy humour.
But I did enjoy Barry’s irreverence: he doesn’t hold anything sacred, even as he peddles a lower form of comedy. He also didn’t take himself seriously, wearing huge sideburns in the 1974 bit, even though the rest of his garb remained the same.
Dave Barry is by far the best part; he’s a likeable everyman (everyguy?) type.
Sill, there were a few creative moments, like when he and Dan Marino do a play-by-play of guys’ positioning in the public bathroom. Or when they go back to the dawn of guys and the actors are all expressing themselves in grunts with subtitles.
Obviously, the cast also doesn’t take itself seriously and that’s part of the picture’s redemption. Watching them on foam sets, donning purposely crap beards and costumes was actually fairly funny; they had no illusions about what they were making.
And that alone is worth something.
But it doesn’t make up for the performances which cover as vast a range as purposely goofy to utterly incompetent – which is what we get when non-actors are used for “interview” bits. Combined with the cheap production, it reeked of amateur hour.
But what could expect from a film produced by… um… Labrador Pictures?
Look, ‘Complete Guide to Guys’ isn’t terrible, but it’s not terribly funny either. Or clever. Or insightful. It’s corny, yet silly in a pleasant way, but it’s going to revolt anyone who prefers their humour carefully thought-out and well-honed.
Having said this, based on online comments, some people actually enjoy this sort of thing – no doubt finding “truths” in the banalities that Dave Barry espouses and regurgitates here. To these people I recommend the picture wholeheartedly.
The rest of us, however, will find this guide woefully incomplete.
Date of viewing: April 8, 2017