“Game Over, Man!” is exactly the kind of action-comedy you’d expect to get when you let the stars and creators of “Workaholics” free from the restrictions of basic cable censors. It’s basically a knock off of “Die Hard,” just with more drugs, gore and full-frontal male nudity.
The Netflix original film, which released last Friday, March 23, was created, written and produced by its three stars. It puts Anders Holm, Blake Anderson and Adam DeVine in the lead roles as Darren, Joel and Alexxx. Darren is the supposed leader and brains (if there are any) of the group, Joel comes across as the sweeter, more sensible member, and Alexxx is a lovable lunatic. As the only people able to escape the rooftop, they find themselves trying to work up the courage to save the day, coming up with one ridiculous, yet somehow effective, plan after the next. Each of the movies shocking action scenes is book-ended by bits of the troupe bickering amongst themselves with familiar “Workaholics” wit.
The three friends and hotel housekeepers pass the time by smoking in the rooms they’re supposed to clean and working on developing their own video game, “Skintendo.” The trio sees the chance to fund their game when the insanely rich tech mogul Bey Awadi (Ukarsh Ambudkar) hosts a star-studded party on the hotel’s rooftop. However, they aren’t the only ones hoping to get Bey’s attention that night. During the party the hotel is quickly taken over by a group of criminals (led by Neal McDonough and Rhona Mitra) who plan to hold Bey, and the rest of the famous party goers, hostage until they get their ransom.
The film is at its best in its extreme comedic moments. It’s certainly not the smartest film to fill my screen in recent weeks, but there’s some fun to be had during the admittedly creative, and grotesque action sequences in “Game Over, Man!” The star studded cast of partygoers turned hostages creates a seemingly endless line up of cameos. Some unlucky celebrities who play versions of themselves are belittled or killed in hilarious fashion as the criminals attempt to negotiate and maintain control of the situation. It plays off of some admired action movies and their troupes, exemplified by a “Keanu-esque” moment when Bey’s dog is being threatened.
However, some of these scenes might go a little too far. There is virtually no concern for offending viewers as audiences are treated, or rather exposed, to scenes featuring a hostage “tossing another man’s salad,” a severed penis and autoerotic asphyxiation as a form of distraction with a pro-longed display of full-frontal male nudity, courtesy of DeVine himself. Not to mention, there’s a whole lot of blood. I can see why these scenes are supposed to be funny but I definitely don’t know if it was necessary. The same goes for the unfortunate number of jokes where homosexuality is used for the punchline, despite a fairly sweet relationship between two of the evil henchmen. The movie feels out of touch with these jokes, pushing them from funny to tiresome with its relentless profane humor. Perhaps this is a problem stemming from the original version of the movie having been penned six years ago, but there’s no reason this had to stay in the final draft.
That being said, the whole thing does succeed in a way by knowing it’s not to be taken seriously. It rolls from one over-the-top scene to the next, and you have to respect “the swing for the fences” approach the trio takes to their comedy even if the jokes aren’t all home runs. This is a movie that simply couldn’t exist anywhere other than Netflix as the service allows the team to create their anything goes humor on a larger scale. While it’s certainly not a film for everyone, and might actually offend some viewers, “Workaholics” fans will be thrilled to see the trio in this feature length adventure.
In an interview with the Good 5 Cent Cigar, DeVine, Anderson and Holm discussed the process of bringing “Game Over, Man!” to life, their favorite moments of the film, and how it differs from their old TV show. (INTERVIEW BELOW)
Originally, the film was supposed to be released on Apr. 20, but was moved up to Mar. 23.
“Netflix saw it and was so excited and wanted to release it sooner,” said DeVine. “We’ve been sitting on the movie for a while, so they were like, let’s just put it out.”
“We like to think it’s a 4/20 gift for all the people who are celebrating 4/20 every day in their lives-a 4/20 miracle,” joked Anderson chiming in.
“The story was something we were all throwing around,” said Holm, who is credited as the principal writer of the movie. “I’m the guy that goes and takes our dreams and our ideas and weave them into what I like to refer to as ‘The Quilt of Comedy.’”
“And you keep them warm at night. Thank you for that,” Anderson chimed in.
“That’s right,” Holm agreed. “I bundle the ideas up, and keep them warm. But this is our movie — the group’s movie. It’s a labor of love for me to be able to go off and write for these goddamn comedy geniuses.”
The trio answered with as many jokes as they did serious responses, doubling down on each other’s quips. It’s clear the three have not just been working together, but have been friends for more than several years.
When asked if the stars were worried about their “Game Over, Man!” characters coming across as too similar to their Comedy Central roles, Holm expressed no concern.
“When you start from the ground up, and you go, OK: Who are these people, and why are they in this movie? Then, you start to find out why they’re different,” Holm said. “And then, when you start writing for actors, because you know their strong suits are in certain places and not in others, you can still play to their performing strengths. By putting a different point of view and perspective in the story, all of a sudden you have a new man.”
Though the film was originally written six years ago, the heart of the movie stays true to its original version. Some jokes, like Darren’s constant vaping throughout the film, were thrown in later on while DeVine’s full frontal nudity was always part of the plan.
“But we were like, ‘The world needs to see Adam’s penis. Everything else, we’ll come up with at a later date,’” said Anderson and Holm.
At the risk of giving away any spoilers, apart from DeVine’s nudity, it is safe to say that the film has a number of other surprises that push the envelope.
“Anything that comes off as shocking ties into the story. There’s not nudity for nudity’s sake — it is pushing the story forward,” Anderson said.
“Though, I have been dying to see Adam’s nude penis,” Holm said. “It served my story, I’ll tell you that.”
DeVine, Anderson and Holm have been working on the film with Seth Rogen and Scott Rudin’s company for most of the six year process.
“We had a few studios that were pretty interested, and then Netflix came in and gave us the budget that we wanted to make the movie as big and as fun as we needed it to feel,” DeVine said. “We wanted to come from ‘Workaholics,’ which is this small, basic cable television show, and make the movie feel much larger than anything you’ve seen from us. And Netflix was able to give us a proper budget to do that.”
The movie features a number of cameos, including reggae sensation Shaggy, Steve-O and Flying Lotus, Joel McHale and Fred Armisen, as well as people who have appeared in episodes of “Workaholics,” such as Jillian Bell.
“We filmed the whole movie up in Vancouver, and a lot of people we were calling just for one day of work. So, you gotta call the homies for that” Anderson said.
When asked about the transition from “Workaholics” to a movie of this scale, Holm said, “Weirdly, for me, it was kind of seamless. We walked onto our giant set where we literally built an entire floor of a hotel, with hotel rooms, stairwells… it was a trip. But then I was like, let’s do this.”
“Yeah, I think if we would have done this movie during season one or two or three (of ‘Workaholics’), we might have been overwhelmed,” DeVine said. “I think we got to this movie at the perfect place in our lives and careers. Because it is a lot, to be given millions and millions of dollars to go off and make a movie. But since we were able to do ‘Workaholics’ for so long, and feel so comfortable, and be the bosses for seven years, by the end of it — we got pretty comfortable steering the ship.”
While there is no disputing their experience with “Workaholics” greatly prepared them for their work on “Game Over, Man!,” it’s certainly not the same as developing a high budget film.
“When you’re making TV — and we were involved in every aspect of the show — you’re reading scripts for episodes, you’re acting, you’re casting episodes, you’re watching cuts of episodes. So stuff can really back up on you,” Anderson said. “But in the movie biz, you really get to focus on each thing individually, and you have a lot more time to live in the scenes and the comedy, so that was refreshing.”
“Also, TV shows move so quickly. We would have to shoot, sometimes, eight to 10 pages in a day, which is a ton,” DeVine said. “In a movie, you only need to shoot two to four pages for the whole day, so you really have time to make sure you get it right.”
“We were coming off of seven seasons of a show on TV,” Anderson said. “So it was kind of refreshing to have all those freedoms that a movie allows you to have.”
“And especially at Netflix…they allow you to be as creative as you want to be,” DeVine said. “They also don’t have “R” ratings, so… anything goes.”
Joking about “the ideal way” to view “Game Over, Man!,” Anderson chimed in, confidently saying, “With your pants off.”
DeVine and Holm scoffed at Anderson, as if they suddenly disapproved of a joking, insincere response before quickly laughing and carrying on.
“Watch it with your friends,” DeVine said. “Watch it on a gigantic TV – the biggest TV that you can get your hands on. Because it’s a cool, big movie, and it’s kind of a shame to watch it on your phones.”
“Take all the bedsheets in the dorm and you tie them together, and hang them out the window to make a giant screen, and project it,” Holm said in a booming, affected tone.
“I know you’re doing, like, a fake voice, but that’s a really good idea,” DeVine said.
The troupe debated for a while, as they struggled to choose their favorite moments of the movie.
“They’re all our babies,” DeVine confessed of each scene. “A fan favorite is probably the fist fight when we first encountered the terrorists, and I am fully nude from the waist down. That was also pretty difficult to film, because Blake wouldn’t stop staring at me.”
“Knock it off!” Anderson said in response. “One of my favorites was the big stunt with us hanging between the two buildings, because we had never really gotten to do a stunt of that scale.”
“I like watching all the bad guy stuff,” Holm said. “I’ve acted with these guys for so long, which is fun, but to sit back and watch characters that I’ve never seen come to life, and do what was in my brain in my basement, was a lot of fun. Watching the scene where Jillian (Bell), who’s just credited as somebody who shits her pants… that was funny.”