Eye For Film >> Movies >> Natural Born Pranksters (2016) Film Review
The increasing popularity of amateur YouTube programming means that success is gradually coming to have more and more connection to what audiences actually want. Three billion views on YouTube is a good argument for getting a film funded, but making the jump between short sketches and a feature length production is still challenging. Natural Born Pranksters is hit and miss. It has done well in linking its sketches together and creating the sense of momentum necessary to sustain this sort of thing in the cinema, but the sketches themselves are not all strong enough to work for what's likely to be a tougher audience. Its natural home is on DVD where is can be watched in fragments, much like the original show.
The film's first sketch is one of the weaker ones - pulling a sexually themed prank on masseurs is in petty poor taste considering what many of them have to put up with day to day. It's rescued by the fact that the comedy team has underestimated the suspicion that comes with that territory - these are far from easy targets and they quickly catch on. None of the humour in the film is intentionally spiteful and its general cheeriness is endearing but one wonders how many bad reactions from prankees might have been edited out, especially in set-ups involving intimidation and violence. Some but not all of the victims of these tricks have been set up by friends, but there are points when it seems surprising that the team made it all the way through the film without getting shot.
Also problematic here is a certain naivete, but its impact may depend on the viewer. This is illustrated by a sketch which involves shocking art exhibition attendees with a painting made out of shit. This might seem funnier in itself if it were not the case that several artists have made a living selling just such paintings for years, but then again, the fact that the marks are themselves unaware of this, despite their effected sophistication, is amusing on a different level. The fact that the team aren't always in control of their jokes alleviates the smugness that is sometimes a problem in such films and makes it easier for viewers to feel part of things. It's often the lowbrow humour that's the most entertaining, with a string of interlinking jokes about police officers peeing in the street quite charming because of the public's reaction to them.
There are a few swipes at similarly constructed comedy films along the way. If you've enjoyed Johnny Knoxville's human cannonball stunts in the Jackass films, you'll love their reinvention here, with its playfully gory twist. Although this film doesn't achieve the coherence of Jackass, it's a good first effort for an amateur team and parts of it work very well indeed. And despite those earlier warnings, if you're a keen prankster yourself, there are a few tricks here that you can try at home.Reviewed on: 09 Apr 2016