June 6, 2023

The star of this photo, Bert Kreischer, is one of those popular stand-up comedians who isn’t zeitgeist-adjacent enough to generate much thought or buzz. But in the late 1990s, as a student at Florida State University, he used to be the subject of a profile in Rolling Stone magazine calling him “the top reveler from the number one party school in the country.”

The late 1990s was a while ago, and today Kreischer is a hefty 50-year-old looking slightly partied. That’s part of his shtick – he performs stand-up while shirtless. In “The Machine,” he plays a fictionalized version of himself, initially in a repentant mode – a family man who has royally ticked off his clan. At his daughter’s 16th birthday party, Bert and his carpet salesman father, Albert, are accosted at gunpoint by the mobster Irina (Iva Babic) and taken to Russia, where Bert must make amends for his part in a drunken train robbery. for.

This gory shaggy dog ​​story is extrapolated from a real Kreischer play. While evading a dozen or so Slav psycho killers after an heirloom Bert stole, father and son solve their problems (of course).

One wonders, if Kreischer is such a popular stand-up comedian, why hasn’t he done more television and film acting. Good. Here he hits his target and stays in his personal job, but he is not an artist who can carry a film. Mark Hamill, as his father, gets closer to the crusty old man’s territory than one might have predicted. He’s practically Wilford Brimley.

Director Peter Atencio has achieved reasonable results in absurdist meta-comedy (‘Keanu’, for example), but he can’t cook with these ingredients. Even when the relentlessly salty humor gets all crass (a dog is thrown out of a high window), the product is lackluster.

The machine
Rated R for language, gore and extreme partying. Running time: 1 hour 52 minutes. In theatres.