(Warning: For those of my followers who care, the videos linked to in this article contain strong language, violent slapstick, and other things you may not want your kids to see.)
Last year, when ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com (one of my favorite websites) celebrated its one-year anniversary with a massive brawl featuring all of its talent and many of its partners, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Mainly, I thought it was cool that they actually flew all of the contributors to Chicago. This was the first time most of these people had ever been in the same state, let alone the same room. Sure, the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Nostalgia Critic had come face-to-face before, and the Nostalgia Chick also stopped by to cross over with the Critic, but this…this was on a scale I never imagined. Sure, the lighting was bad, the sound was uneven, and many of the participants didn’t really get much time to shine in the fight itself, but it was cool to see so many people whose work I was watching (and a whole bunch of others whose work I had totally been meaning to get around to see, seriously, guys) working together, not only on the fight, but on a veritable deluge of crossover reviews, sketches, interviews, and more.
So when various Channel Awesome contributors started mentioning on Twitter back in April that they were all at a hotel together, the immediate assumption was we would see another fun and goofy fight scene, and more mini-crossovers.
I don’t think any of the fans suspected they were actually shooting a feature-length film in four days.
Released in six parts over the week of May 17-22 (view the parts at these links), “Kickassia” chronicles the story of the Nostalgia Critic’s harebrained scheme to take over Molossia, an actual micronation located in Nevada. The Critic declares war against Molossian President Kevin Baugh (playing himself, proving he’s either the greatest sport in the world, or just willing to do anything to promote Molossian tourism), and flies many of his fellow reviewers out to Nevada to help with the attack.
Unlike the First Year Anniversary Special, which relied entirely on slapstick, running gags/catchphrases, and general goofiness, “Kickassia” is…well, still full of slapstick and goofiness, but it’s also far more story driven, with a lot of character-based humor. Admittedly, the characters may not be exactly the way they are on their own shows, and they still work in many of their running gags and inside jokes, but in general, it stands on its own a lot better than the Brawl did.
The acting is delightfully hammy, the references fly fast and furious, and you can almost feel the cast members cracking up as soon as Doug and Rob yell “cut”. And all this is exactly why it’s so damn charming. You really feel like you’re watching a movie made by your funniest friends.
Obviously, the miniseries isn’t perfect. Some gags drag on far longer than they should. There are a few moments and cameos that amount to nothing but fanservice…but that’s forgivable when you consider that the whole thing only exists for the purpose of fanservice.
Perhaps the biggest weakness is the final chapter. Nothing particularly bad about it, but it felt a bit rushed and predictable. Rob Walker has confirmed that the series was originally edited as three acts, and then split into six to increase ad revenue and have an episode out every day of the week. While most of the individual chapters still felt strong enough on their own, I felt Part Six could have benefited from still being attached to Part Five. This wouldn’t even have to mean leaving it with three parts–maybe just a five-part series, one installment every weekday, with an extra-long conclusion. I think I would have enjoyed it more that way, but what’s done is done.
If you’re not already a fan of the Nostalgia Critic or any of the other contributors, you’ll probably find yourself frequently lost among the inside jokes, but you may enjoy the series anyway. If nothing else, it’s a testament to what a group of passionate geeks can accomplish, even with very little time and money.
And now, for the sake of geeking out, my favorite moments of each segment. Obviously, this section contains spoilers, so don’t read before watching.
-The “It’s time” sequence. The first sign that all of the cast members would get a chance to shine.
-Spoony and Cinema Snob’s brief scene. Noah’s melodramatic overacting is funny enough on its own; Brad’s snarky deadpan is the icing on the cake.
-The “nazis” bit. Not only a spot-on parody of inspirational scenes, but a downright Pythonesque example of an argument based in illogical logic. Simple and effective.
-“IT INVOLVES USING WEAPONS” – Downright Barney Stinson-like.
-The citizens of Molossia, oblivious to everything. Nice of the TGWTG team to include Kevin’s family.
-Linkara and MarzGurl. “You were so young and blue-haired!”
-Angry Joe’s freakout at the fence. “The bullets are just going through the hooooooles!”
-Lee: “You feel beautiful…”
-Linkara: “For example, I’m not even in front of you!”
-Nostalgia Chick as Sarah Palin. Maybe not the most original impression in the world, but it’s great to see Lindsay stretch her acting muscles.
-Chris trying to coax a certain catchphrase out of the Critic
-“Surprise! …you’re learning!”
-Lee’s almost-paralyzed state of wonder at the mere act of drinking water.
-Film Brain’s slightly exaggerated account of his eavesdropping
-Cinema Snob’s understated “Well, that’s confusing.”
-The entire Cinema Snob trial, from the Critic’s childish “Too bad I’m in chaaaarge!”, to him checking behind him when Snob starts yelling, to the “redundant” statements of who’s “out of order”, to the Critic trying to steal Phelous’ plan before Phelous finishes saying it.
-The scene in the Critic’s mind. This is the widest angle we’ve ever seen the review room at, and Bhargav’s role was…well, it was expected, but it would have felt empty without it.
-Spoony’s transformation. Over-the-top, hilarious, and awesome. Linkara’s reaction to the plan was also priceless.
-The Critic’s casual reaction to the fact that Spoony gave into the madness.
-“Surrender!” “No!” “Alright, just thought I’d give it a shot.”
-“Nothing, he’s just French! They just talk!”
-While the Peter Pan/Pokemon/Power Rangers-inspired “We believe” scene DID drag on a little long, it was a nice gesture to include cameos from contributors who couldn’t make it.
-Linkara’s transformation into Starfleet Patton
-The Obligatory James Rolfe Cameo. Once again, it drags on a bit, but it caught me off-guard, and it was nice to see him without going back to the Nerd Rivalry Well.
-JewWario’s completely unnecessary (and very funny) disguising of his voice.
-Linkara’s continued Patton impression. After using the “magnificent bastard” clip so many times, it was great to hear him say it himself.
-Spoony’s “Eh, I got better.”
-The horse clopping sound effect as 8-Bit Mickey rides in on Handsome Tom
-Ask That Guy showing up, seemingly to deliver the same ending as last year…but not
-The fact that the Critic never learned anything. He’s still the unpleasant, self-centered douchebag with a feeling of entitlement we know and love.
Naturally, everybody coming together for this movie led to a few other crossovers occurring. My favorites so far have been Spoony revisiting the Pumpkinhead game with help from LordKat, Film Brain and Linkara taking on The Spirit, and Cinema Snob and Phelous attempting to review the (nonexistent) Troll 4. Honorable mention goes to Doug and Brad as Disgruntled Mimes, which wasn’t technically shot during the anniversary gathering, but I had to mention it because it’s my favorite sketch of Doug’s since the Joker’s Scar Story.