Remember when YouTubers like Fred and Shane Dawson started appearing in movies and how that was the best thing to happen to humanity since Chernobyl? Oh you do? Well, dear reader, if those memories are fond, then you’ll be pleased to see that a similar opportunity has been given to the guys at Smosh – you know, that one comedy channel we all laughed at back when we were between ages 13 and 14.5, approximately. Huzzah and stuff.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox and directed by the guy who played Bill in the Bill and Ted series, Smosh: The Movie has absolutely no purpose in its existence besides cashing in on the popularity of these two YouTube comics. Whatever semi-story the film ends up having feels like an afterthought and if you think that anyone cared about at least putting effort into the comedy, you’d be out of luck. I guess they figured that putting the faces of two passably funny YouTubers on the posters would be enough to attract a mainstream teen crowd and earn a quick buck. ‘Cuz I don’t think I need to tell anyone that neither the movie nor the original YouTube channel are exactly for grown-ups.
This “film”, expectedly, features Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox as the famous Smosh versions of themselves. However, instead of incorporating the surrealist wacky humour that made their YouTube videos so popular to begin with, the movie itself is bland, stylistically boring, harmless, and has a generic “high school reunion” plot. It only gets weird when Anthony comes across an embarrassing video of himself online and takes along Ian (who totally isn’t the one responsible) on an adventure to get the clip removed from YouTube. Throughout the journey, we get to see them run into other famous YouTube celebrities that they hoped to cash in on, and even some real-world celebrities (though I suppose the difference is vague these days). These include Jenna Marbles, the Epic Meal Time guy, Shane Dawson (sigh), and Markiplier. Then there’s the likes of Steve Austin and Michael Ian Black as the CEO of YouTube, named Steve You-too-bay. Get it? It’s funny because they’re pronouncing a word differently.
Nohing especially amusing or of genuine interest happens during all this and the only remarkably surreal scene is one where the Smosh guys use a portal to travel in-between different YouTube videos. At one point, for instance, they are trapped within a Markiplier video and find themselves chased by a hideously rendered video game monster that still looks more convincing than the bear they encounter in the woods in another scene.
Perhaps one should discuss further what this film has to offer in terms of visual effects. It has absolutely nought. Every single effects shot in Smosh makes The Angry Video Game Nerd Movie (which is still a superiorly charming film since it was made by a man who loves filmmaking and not a studio that loves money) look like Star Wars. I imagine there may have been budgetary constraints, but when there are people back on YouTube that can make visual effects as awesomely as the likes of Rocket Jump, Karma Pirates and Corridor Digital, two YouTubers making the transition to big-budget Hollywood film might need a better excuse to showcase effects this bad. This isn’t a Nickelodeon or Disney Channel film, folks. Professionals distributed this.
Maybe if the film went all out in its absurdity and opted for a tone reminiscent of that in Kung Pow, Tim & Eric, or even Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If your film was set in a world where anything goes, the inconsistencies in the realism of the special effects could easily have been part of the humour. This is exactly why so many modern comedies fail. They restrain themselves too much and refuse to challenge their viewers with smarter and more creative jokes, and instead goes the easy route by making idiots laugh with simple gags that also end up feeling more like a series of dumb sketches than something that was written as a full-length movie. Guess what happens when two guys who make quick YouTube sketches for a living try their hand at movies? Besides them inexplicably taking all the energy out of their comedy and camera work, I mean.
This is such a dull and completely useless piece of filmmaking. The only thing that mattered with Smosh: The Movie was making sure the poster and the marketing would arouse those who pay real money for YouTuber T-shirts with the promise of seeing their favorites on the big screen. And yet, it is weird how a film that exists for no other reason than fanservice is this bad at even giving fans what they desire. Why make such a bland film for people who loved such a wacky concept? Was it worth the marketing, guys? Did you even manage to make money off of people who ARE young enough to worship Smosh, or did word of mouth spread amongst the fans so fast that not enough people saw it and not enough money was made, even from this easy-peasy demographic?
I’m asking this in sincerity, of course. I dunno, maybe Smosh fans are seriously so gullible that they could watch these two clowns watch paint drying together and still delude themselves into thinking it’s first-class entertainment? If so, at least I’m reaffirmed in my belief that putting YouTube celebrities in cinema is going to be the apocalypse of movie-making. I love being right.