In a world where everyone takes things far too seriously, I’m intrigued by any movie ballsy enough to venture into the absurd.
VHYes, directed by Jack Henry Robbins, isn’t your typical “found footage” movie. It’s a comedy in the same vein as shows like "Reno: 911", "The Eric Andre Show", and "Monty Python’s Flying Circus". It’s a movie that really shouldn’t work, not even with recognizable stars like Thomas Lennon ("Reno: 911", Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption), and Susan Sarandon (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). But somehow, against all odds, it manages to fill a niche in today’s comedy market.
The wraparound story is simple. A kid in the late-'80s is given a camera by his parents, and he immediately decides to start recording everything, including practical jokes on his family and firework “stunts” with his best friend. Unfortunately, the VHS he’s recording over is his parents’ wedding tape, and only small bits of their holy matrimony are spared by the kid’s imaginative recording frenzy.
When he’s not making movies of his own, the boy decides to record late-night shows and commercials so that he can see what’s on television when he’s asleep. And this is the point where VHYes really takes off.
We all know nostalgia sells well in today’s market, and most movies and shows that embrace the '80s do so with a blind eye to all the bad parts…such as late-night infomercials. VHYes takes the less-travelled path of parodying the horrible, cringe-worthy cheesiness in a series of ongoing vignettes told through samples of paid programming, true crime re-enactments, adult films, and terrible product commercials. Although we’re given these programs in small chunks, we see a full narrative unfold within each of them, and the stories range from bickering exes on a re-sale show to the burning of a “witch” at a magic show.
One of my favorite segments is a send-up of "appraisal" road shows. The host, played by Mark Proksch (FX’s "What We Do in the Shadows") pretends to know the exact background of every object presented to him, often going into very detailed and excited descriptions of their origin, only to be absolutely wrong more often than not.
Another funny segment is a commercial about home security. In this extremely graphic and poorly-written commercial, an intruder named "Mister Nightmare" breaks into a family’s home and attempts to murder a small child, only to be put down immediately thanks to the groundbreaking home security system. Of all the segments in the movie, this one really rang true to the terrible products commercials of the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
I want to tell you about all the parts of this movie I found amusing, but it would be a real dick move to spoil anything else for you. Just be prepared for the strangest ending to a comedy you’re likely to ever see.
You really have to be open-minded to enjoy this movie, especially if you’re not a fan of absurdity and prefer a straightforward storyline in your comedies. However, VHYes is pure gold for anyone who’s searched far and wide for a comedy they haven’t seen rehashed a billion times. This movie is to comedy was V/H/S is to horror, and you’ll know within the first ten minutes if you’re in or out.
I give VHYes 8/10 camcorders.