Review by Sean Boelman
If there’s one thing that 2023 has lacked so far in terms of cinema, it’s a great studio comedy. Sure, films like 80 for Brady and Cocaine Bear brought the laughs — but neither was an old-school gut-buster with jokes in the double digits per minute. Broken Lizard, the team behind such films as Super Troopers and Club Dread, is here to save the day with Quasi, a hilarious new comedy that provides a wonderful bit of escapism.
The film is a comedic retelling of the Quasimodo story from The Hunchback of Notre Dame — or at least, in a way. In reality, the film shares very little in common with the Victor Hugo novel, simply using some of the characters and the setting as the foundation for an R-rated comedy. The result is about as silly and hilarious as it could have been.
When it comes down to it, how much one enjoys this film will largely depend on how much one vibes with Broken Lizard’s sense of humor. It’s filled with the same type of silly, sophomoric, occasionally raunchy humor that made Super Troopers into a legendary cult classic, and it’s certainly possible that this one ends up earning the same status.
However, in Broken Lizard’s best films, there’s a layer beyond the crude jokes that makes it work, and that is what was missing from some of their recent outings. Here, the romantic subplot does a lot of heavy lifting to give the film an emotional core, but the film also benefits from having all of the Broken Lizard guys getting to make a movie together again, and the sense of friendship and brotherhood permeating through it.
All five of the Broken Lizard guys are firing on all cylinders with their multi-role performances. Jay Chandrasekhar probably gives what is the funniest performance in the film as the flamboyant king. Sure, he’s just doing a schtick, but it’s perfect for the tone they’re shooting for. Steve Lemme is also very funny and charming as the eponymous hunchback.
One of the more surprising things is that, of the studio comedies in recent memory, this is one of the edgier ones when it comes to satire. Troupe member Erik Stolhanske plays an exaggerated caricature of the Pope, and some of the stuff he does is honestly insane. Once the religious crowd gets their hands on this, they’re going to be up in arms — but the film’s all the better for it.
From a purely technical level, Quasi is probably Broken Lizard’s most ambitious film yet given that it’s a period piece. The production design feels very reminiscent of the classic medieval spoofs of masters like Mel Brooks and Monty Python — and Broken Lizard’s sense of humor translates exceptionally well to this style.
With Quasi, the Broken Lizard team takes what is arguably their biggest swing yet, and the result is a comedy that is very funny in an old-school way. It’s a much-awaited return-to-form for the comedy troupe, reminding fans why we fell in love with them in the first place.
Quasi streams on Hulu beginning April 20.