Let's Go to Prison: Unrated Bob Odenkirk

Director Bob Odenkirk was one of the creative geniuses behind Mr. Show, and star Will Arnett was one of the standout performers in the sadly missed absurdist sitcom Arrested Development. With that in mind, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that Let’s Go to Prison might be an overlooked comedy classic just waiting to be discovered. It pains me to say this but it isn’t. The first alarm bell rang when I saw the DVD’s hideously tacky cover emblazoned with "unrated,” a distinction that has been rendered meaningless by the fact that any film that performed poorly at the box office now gets its own very special DVD release with some extra swearing. It looks like a sub-standard, straight-to-DVD comedy akin to, I don’t know, Boob Inspectors II: Electric Boobaloo, or something, and it’s obvious that’s exactly what Universal wants renters to think. Telling the (slim) story of John Lyshitski (Dax Sheperd) and his attempts to get karmic payback on the judge that repeatedly incarcerated him as a child by sending his son, Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett) to prison and making sure it’s as unpleasant as possible. It’s easy to see the kind of dark comedy that Odenkirk was attempting but it largely falls flat despite Arnett’s performance. The plot never becomes joyfully absurd, instead it’s depressingly formulaic and there are few laugh out loud moments. The extras are slight; a commentary from Odenkirk would have been superb but the best the package offers is a very short, pleasant documentary, which reveals that the soundtrack was recorded in two days by greats such as Ray Parker Jr.! The included alternate ending and deleted scenes are neither particularly funny nor particularly illuminating. Let’s Go to Prison is a sadly forgettable film that has, unfortunately, been packaged in an even more forgettable way. (Universal)