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Tooken

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    Andrew S
    Member

  • Tooken



    Released by Cinedigm
    Released on: July 7, 2015
    Directed by: John Asher
    Cast: Lee Tergesen, Lauren Stamile, Reno Wilson, Margaret Cho
    Year: 2015
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Bryan Millers (Lee Tergesen) quit his job with the CIA for a slower, less intense job as a mall security guard. It seems Bryan's life has fallen apart, everything he loves has been taken away from him. His wife left him for another man, he's become estranged from his teenage daughter, he has developed erectile dysfunction, and his dogs keep getting blown up. After discovering Albanian arms dealers at the local Puppy Emporium pet store, Bryan begins to investigate. What he discovers will either kill him, or bring his family back together.

    John Asher's Tooken is sort of a parody of the Taken series, although no one is really kidnapped. As a parody the film fails miserably, it is not funny nor clever. The film is successful, however, as a showcase for how bad the parody film has fallen over the last 20 or so years. It is amazing at how far this genre has decayed since its mid-1980s heyday. Long gone are the likes of Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and, my personal favorite, Top Secret!. Those films have given way to the lazy and unfunny Scary Movie series and the countless imitators that have followed. I am not sure what happened, but the mile-a-minute jokes of the earlier films have been replaced with so-called funny things, for example erectile dysfunction. Tooken does not feature funny wordplay or humorous situations, it just presents the audience with a "funny" thing, like a farting dog, and expects us to laugh.

    One of the many disappointing things about the film is Tergesen and Cho are both pretty funny actors who are wasted. Tergesen, probably best remembered for his appearances in the Wayne's World film series, delivers a fine Liam Neeson impersonation, capturing the actor's intensity quite well. Cho is also good as the film's primary villain, Brown Finger, named so because he has a brown, poop stained finger, hardy har. For her performance Cho just recreates her acclaimed Kim Jong-Il character from 30 Rock. Reno Wilson, former Cosby Show cast member, also gives a solid performance as an ill-conceived, stereotypical thug character, Money Maker, the boyfriend of Millers' ex-wife. Despite a noticeable professionalism and screen presence, Wilson is let down by his character. Not only is it unfunny and dated, there is also an uncomfortable, slightly racist element to the way his relationship with Lenore Millers (Lauren Stamile) is portrayed onscreen. Money Maker, along with his much talked about “manhood”, are supposed to represent a threat to the manliness/supremacy of Bryan. However, this threat in manhood is overcome in the film's climax where Money Maker's forearm is torn off and Bryan is able to save his family thanks to the return of his massive, 4-foot long, erection. In the end, the black character is rendered not just impotent, but castrated by the loss of his forearm and the white character is able to reclaim his property, his ex-wife, and dominance. Maybe I am reading too much into the film, but this just felt like some sort of racial commentary. In addition, to this problem, Tooken features my all-time most hated character type, the crude and vulgar old person, here embodied by Bryan's mother Edna (Joyce Bulifant). I cannot express how much I hate characters of this type, I do not find them cute nor funny. Every time Bulifant appeared on screen and made a reference to an orgy I wanted to scream.

    Director/co-writer Asher is probably best remembered for once bring married to Jenny McCarthy and for his role on the mid-90s Weird Science television series. With this film, Asher shows he is an awful director of comedy. One of his biggest problems is his lack of pacing and timing. Every “joke” in Tooken falls flat and the 81 minute running time feels like an eternity. Asher also seems to find objects showed up asses and hitting an injured person by opening a door to be hilarious as these actions happen repeatedly in the film. In Tooken's favor, I will complement the film's look. The film is glossy, well-shot, and the handful of action set pieces are surprisingly well done.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Cinedigm has given Tooken a better than deserved DVD release. The film's 2.35:1 image is crisp and clean, it gives the film the look of a more expensive movie. The Dolby 5.1 surround mix is really well done and the film sounds very good. Dialogue is never buried beneath the music or explosions and yet neither suffers of being mixed too low. The picture and sound quality, along with the better than expected special effects, give Tooken a polished sheen, it is amazing that a film can be as bad as this one and still be well made.

    Tooken is given a handful of dumb extras. The first is a 16-minute behind the scenes documentary. The featurette is typical, lots of backstage laughs and comradery. The DVD also has an unfunny Cribs parody with Reno Wilson. Again, Wilson has a presence but what he's given is terrible. The features are rounded out by a set of deleted scenes which are so bad they had to be cut from this turd of a movie.

    The Final Word:

    Halfway through Tooken I began to wonder who was this film's audience. It cannot have been made for anyone over the age of 15, so I guess Asher was aiming for the 12-14 market. I have a hard time believing anyone associated with this film is proud of their work. I felt embarrassed for the actors. The faceless crew members can hide from Tooken, the cast will forever have their faces connected this junk. If the opportunity to watch Tooken should ever arise, please do not do it. Run away from this film, it is 81 minutes of your life which will be taken away.






















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