Quasi is a confounding comedy more passive with its humor than playful.
Quasi (2023) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on April 26, 2023
Rating 1.5 /5
The Broken Lizard’s comedy troupe has never found a grove outside their cop comedy in Super Troopers. The best two films they’ve made have been Super Troopers and, to a lesser extent, Super Troopers 2. They all seem so comfy in those roles. Now we have Quasi, an attempt to place this silly ensemble in a tale of medieval France and find the funny in the story of Quasimoto. They don’t find much.
The film portrays Quasimoto as less of a freak with his hunchback and more of an everyman at his workplace. His workplace is a torture chamber where the only joke is that everybody working there is highly invested in torture advancements. Steve Lemme makes this type of Quasimoto work but in a manner that makes him more of the bashful guy who enjoys a good beer after work. On that level, he works, but his hunchback feels so widely accepted that there’s little reason to pity this guy who ambles about like an elderly Willem Dafoe.
The rest of the characters proceed similarly, trying to find personalities and vernaculars that suit them better than the period costumes. Kevin Heffernan plays the jealous bunkmate of Quasimoto, becoming a short-fused man with little distinction from his Super Trooper’s character Farva. Jay Chandrasekhar plays the French king who confusingly jokes about executions and often cusses. Paul Soter is similar to the cynical Pope, coming to blows with the King in a manner that is meant to be playfully childish but ultimately comes off as an annoying bit that never takes off. Erik Stolhanske is just kind of there as the Pope’s aid. Adrianne Palicki is the love interest for Quasi as the queen with hardly any funny lines. Brian Cox narrates the story with profanity, spouting off exposition like the most foul-mouthed middle-schooler reading their book report.
More work was put into staging the era and the costumes than any of the script. Perhaps the filmmakers were under the assumption that once they got all dressed up in the production that the funny would just flow, as though inspiration would strike when Lemme gets all the hunchback makeup applied. Characters will speak in the frat-boy mannerisms of an out-of-touch Gen-Xer, believing that a great laugh could come from the king of France slinging the F word in his political talks. Most of the comedy relies on modernizing the vocabulary and practices of the time period. One joke that gets exhausted fast is when Quasimoto takes up painting pictures of himself, referring to them as selfies. It’s a joke that might’ve been funny in a cartoon aimed at kids and mainly because it relies on kids not being familiar with the concept of self-portraits. So many of these bits also feature ambling talk and holding for laughs that likely won’t come.
Quasi is a confounding comedy more passive with its humor than playful. The film has been marketed as the return of the troupe who worked on Super Troopers, Club Dread, and Beerfest, comedies that fell flat on their faces. The concept of Quasi is a good idea for trying to stage gags in Victor Hugo’s novel. But you need more than a concept or lovely set pieces to form a great comedy, and this picture desperately needs more drafts and rewrites. When the funniest part of a movie is Brian Cox reading an intro about how much France sucks, you know your film is in trouble.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.