Starring: Bert Kreischer, Mark Hamill, Jimmy Tatro, Iva Babić,
and Stephanie Kurtzuba
Stream on Amazon Prime
First Impression: It’s a big swing and a miss from the immensely popular crowd pleasing and often shirtless comedian Bert Kreisher, whose story about his college study-abroad trip to Russia ending as a silly convoluted chaotic mess has put him on the comedy map.
If you’ve never heard about stand-up comedian and podcaster Bert Kreisher, I recommend you go to YouTube and type in “The Machine, Bert Kreischer” and there you will find his wildly entertaining true story on how he went to Russia when he was in college, along with the outrageous hijinks that occurred along the way.
Bert Kreisher told his story six years ago and it exploded on the internet with over 56 million views, garnering Kreisher massive fame and a huge new audience in the stand-up comedy scene. That story took Kreisher from performing in small or midsize comedy clubs to performing in 10- to 20,000-seat nationwide theaters with sold-out audiences.
Along with his new stand-up success, Bert Kreischer has also made massive inroads into the lucrative comedy podcasting world where he joins fellow comedian Tom Segura in their “2 Bears 1 Cave” podcast. It brings in one million listeners a week, due in part to the success of “The Machine” story.
So, with all this new-found success, what’s the logical next step? Well, apparently Hollywood caught wind of Bert and his infamous story, so here we are with “The Machine” where we get a fictionalized version of events that followed Bert, 20 years after the event.
We pick up in the modern day, where we are treated to a montage of the successful Bert burning the candle at both ends while his life starts a downward spiral. Bert decides he needs to take a break from stand-up and podcasting. He realizes he needs a reset with his family — the fame is starting to strain relationships he holds dear. The story continues with a scene at Bert’s teenage daughter’s birthday where he can’t connect with her and is also at odds with his father, played by Mark Hamill, who makes fun of Bert for taking a break and not providing for his family the best he can.
After we are introduced to the boring family drama, the real movie starts: cartoonish Russian Mafia associates crash the party and kidnap Bert and his dad and take them back to Russia where Bert is forced to relive his past actions in order to find a watch that is quite priceless to the Russian mob. And this is where the wheels fall off. We get a movie that is nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is, or has the heart that it thinks it has.
The movie doesn’t know what it wants to be — a zany off-the-wall slapstick comedy, an intense comedy action romp, or a family dramedy that tries to pull at your heart strings. For me it was all over the place and the jokes didn’t land as well as the writers thought they would, which is disappointing, because I am a huge fan of stand-up comedians and want them to succeed in their mainstream aspirations.
Hopefully, Bert will get more chances in Hollywood, because his comedic talent wasn’t allowed to shine as it should have, here in his own film.