Rooster Teeth fans everywhere celebrate: LAZER TEAM is finally hitting theaters!
For those out there who’ve only seen LAZER TEAM on billboards around town, the movie has a very unique pedigree. It’s the first full-length feature to come from Rooster Teeth, an Austin-based studio best known for its online content, including its groundbreaking machinema series RED VS BLUE, its anime-influenced hit RWBY, and its gaming channel ACHIEVEMENT HUNTER. This is Rooster Teeth’s first foray on to the big screen, funded entirely via a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign (the single most highly funded Indiegogo film campaign in the history of the site, as it turns out).
So how is the movie?
Well, if you’re a fan of RED VS BLUE, odds are you’re going to like LAZER TEAM. This is essentially the live-action modern-day version of the Reds and Blues being conscripted to save the world from a threat that’s way out of their league with the help of the supremely disgruntled Freelancer they may or may not have to adopt.
If you’re not a Rooster Teeth fan, or if the previous paragraph made zero sense to you, no worries: you’ll probably still like this movie. LAZER TEAM is the story of an alien attack on Earth; the US Government has known about it for years and has been training a champion, Adam (Alan Ritchson), to fend off the invasion. All Adam needs now is the super suit sent by the universe’s most helpful aliens and he’ll be set. Unfortunately, the pod containing the suit crashes and is found by our hilariously unprepared heroes: disgraced football star and current sheriff Hagan (Burnie Burns), former football star and current alcoholic bum Herman (Colton Dunn), current football star and biggest jerk in the universe Zach (Michael Jones), and current waterboy and town idiot Woody (Gavin Free). They become genetically bonded to the four different pieces of the alien super suit and now have to act as Earth’s champion in Adam’s place. Literally nobody is happy about this (with the possible exception of Zach, as it’s doing wonders for his Instagram likes).
From there on out, it’s a fairly standard learning-to-be-a-team-even-though-we’re-a-bunch-of-schmucks story, with character beats mostly in places you’d expect them and a lot of Rooster Teeth branded humor to set the movie apart from Hollywood’s usual entries in the guy comedy genre. When one of the funniest bits in the early part of the movie is a pair of high school football announcers calling a play by play and subsequently admitting they don’t understand what they’ve just said, we know exactly what we’re in for. We know that our heroes aren’t going to be good at hero-ing right off the bat; how they fail and how they react to it is what makes LAZER TEAM stand out.
The movie is written by Burnie Burns, with all of his usual ups and downs. The biggest strength this movie has going for it is its character-driven story and, even more so, its character-driven humor. One of the more unique aspects of LAZER TEAM is its characters’ genuine reactions to what’s going on around them. In this sort of movie, we expect some form of heroism, and we therefore expect characters who are good at the core and who act a certain way; what we get, for most of the story, is a bunch of small-town Texas guys reacting the same way we’d react if we were thrown into the same situation, from poking stuff they shouldn’t to Instagramming everything to hell and back. (There’s a commentary in there about how the best-kept secrets can be blown by some guy with a smart phone in the right place at the right time; there’s room to analyze it if you’re the type, but honestly, you’d rather just laugh at it.) Burnie is good at giving a group of mostly irredeemable idiots heart, and he uses that talent to its fullest extent here.
By contrast, the biggest weakness in the movie – which is a venn diagram overlap of the biggest weaknesses both in Burnie’s writing and in the guy comedy genre as a whole – is the utter lack of women in the film. There’s one female character in the whole thing that’s even close to well-rounded, and that’s Hagan’s daughter Mindy (Allie DeBerry), and she mostly exists to further the animosity between her dad Hagan and her boyfriend Zach. There is one point in the story that flips that trope on its head, but it’s short-lived and…well, spoilers (I did enjoy it, even though it was over far too soon). Every other woman in the film is a cameo or a bit part; Mindy has the biggest female role in the film, and it’s painfully reminiscent of Nicola Peltz’s role in TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (and let’s face it, nobody wants to be reminded of that movie). Lack of well-rounded women is a mainstay in the by-guys for-guys comedy genre, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing in this movie. It’s a dark shadow on what is otherwise a very enjoyable film.
If you’re a Rooster Teeth fan, keep your eyes peeled for the treasure trove of Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie. From cosplayers to quotes to cameos from Rooster Teeth’s cadre of guest stars, there’s plenty to see, and elbow your friend and point out, and laugh at. My absolute favorites have to be Shannon McCormick’s cameo, and a RED VS BLUE quote used to very great effect in the middle of a fairly high intensity scene. You’ll know it when you hear it; even if you don’t know it, you’ll probably laugh anyway.
All in all, LAZER TEAM is a movie well worth seeing, partially for the heart and wit and partially for the prime example of everything guy comedies used to be and could be again. I will say that the fact that I’m not usually a fan of guy comedies tempered my enjoyment of this movie; I will also say that I enjoyed it anyway and will likely be seeing it again as soon as I get the opportunity. If you’re a fan, you probably already have your ticket; if you’re not a fan, I recommend finding the Tugg screening in your neighborhood, getting yourself a ticket, and seeing the indie comedy that knows just how good comedies can be and wants its audience to have a fun ride from start to finish.
Fans and non-fans, are you looking forward to LAZER TEAM? Is this the day you’ve been waiting for, or are you still wondering why you’re here? If you’ve already seen the movie, what do you think? Let us know!