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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

The ‘Please Don't Destroy’ movie is a pleasure to watch

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Trey Paine | The Observer


Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” is a weird movie. I mean that as a compliment, by the way. If you are familiar with the sketches the titular group makes on “Saturday Night Live,” that’s about what you should expect. The film, a Peacock exclusive release screened a day early at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center thanks to NBCUniversal, feels like a sustained sketch by the trio. That being said, I don’t feel that the jokes get played out, or that the punchlines are predictable. I found myself constantly surprised, consistently laughing and continuously having a good time. I left it thinking that it was a great way to spend an hour and a half … for free. Thankfully, that’s all it costs to watch it on Peacock.

The movie’s main trio, the “Please Don’t Destroy” comedy group, both write and star in the film. As stars, they perform the lines they wrote for themselves very well. As writers, they write lines — specifically, for themselves — very well. The dialogue for the other actors is where the writing falls flat. While the script is consistently funny, at times it feels like all the characters speak the same. They’re all awkward, overly explanatory and far too witty at describing the situations around them. For the main trio, that works. For Conan O’Brien and Bowen Yang, though? Not so much.

That being said, the cast does a great job … mostly. A clear standout is the trio’s “SNL” co-star Bowen Yang, who plays an anti-capitalistic cult leader with an unfortunate sounding mantra. “Hacks” actress Megan Stalter plays a love interest for one of the main three characters, John. While she perhaps suffers from “speaking like the main three” the most out of all of the film’s characters, Stalter’s performance is charming enough to stand out. John Goodman, seen in “The Big Lebowski,” features as the narrator, where he reminds the audience that he was in “The Big Lebowski.” Perhaps the most notable supporting cast member is Conan O’Brien, playing actor/writer Ben Marshall’s dad in the film. Unfortunately for Mr. O’Brien, while I enjoy him as a comedian, I left the theater thinking, “Wow. Conan cannot act.” 

An important part of any movie is the sound design. Is the sound design in this film particularly remarkable? Not necessarily. Music does come as a recurring theme in the story, with it being one of the steps to finding the titular treasure. However, I only bring music up to talk about what might be the funniest — and most baffling — aspect of the movie: the recurring musical leitmotif of Soulja Boy’s “Crank That.” The main characters celebrating a big moment? Soulja Boy. The trio witness a cult’s ritualistic ceremonies? Soulja Boy, though done in the style of a chant. That later use of the song is one of my favorite moments of the film.

I realize, at this point I should wrap up the review, and I haven’t really gotten to the plot yet. But here’s the thing: The plot doesn’t really matter. The plot just sort of exists to allow the characters to do funny things. If you think about it, you cannot be more true to classic comedy films than that — think of “Wayne’s World.” The plot allows the titular trio to go into the woods to look for the titular treasure. Beyond that, the plot is mostly running gags, absurdist bits and playing Soulja Boy. 

The film is very fun, but I realize that I find most things fun. And fun doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good movie, but it means I enjoyed my experience with it. Would I have enjoyed it as much if it wasn’t free? Probably not. But luckily for me, I didn't have to pay to watch it.