You Gotta See This: Let’s Go to Prison

Stars: Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Chi McBride, Bob Odenkirk

Rated R for language, sexual content, some violence and drug material, 2006, Comedy

Compare to: Half Baked (1998), Due Date (2010)

Since I haven’t done a You Gotta See This in a while, I figured I’d let out (hehe). Not to mention, Ice Age: Continental Drift is the only thing that comes out tomorrow, and while it doesn’t look terrible, frankly, I just don’t care to review it. If you wanted to see it, check it out. If it looks terrible to you, chances are, you’ll find it terrible. That could easily sum up almost every movie ever reviewed on here, thereby defeating the purpose of this site, yet… I persist. Not every movie can be Warrior.

This post’s movie is Let’s Go to Prison and is unique in that it ain’t the cinematic gem I might normally promote a YGST as. It is very crude, very crass, and pretty much stupid. I just have a heck of a time watching it. Prison comedies just don’t speak to everyone understandably, and while I don’t necessarily care to relate to anything that happens in this movie, watching it happen to others just brings a smile to my face.

Dax Shepard plays John Lyshitski, a man with a dumb name that fits him very well. His entire life has been one big career of poorly thought out crimes. The judge who has put him away for every one of those crimes eventually is set in Lyshitski’s crosshairs. Too bad for Lyshitski though, because the judge dies just before John’s release. He instead sets his sights on the judge’s son, Nelson Beiderman IV (Will Arnett), a pretentious name for a pretentious, spoiled rotten man child who cares for nobody but himself. After framing Beiderman for a ridiculous crime, Lyshitski gets himself arrested again just to see Beiderman through to the end and watch him suffer for everything Judge Beiderman put John through.

Does this sound like a comedy to you? I guess it would have to, being that no man would ever get himself arrested just to watch someone else live miserably in prison. Then again, after seeing the opening credits roll, and all the celebrity mugshots of years gone by, it kinda makes me think somebody out there is stupid enough to hatch a plot like this. Even still, a story to a comedy is like the engine to a car to a non-car lover. It doesn’t need to be awesome, just enough to be a driving force. Everything else in a comedy should be presented justly; dialogue, chemistry, overall entertainment. And LGTP does entertain.

What this movie does in the story as well as just about every single joke is take serious and laugh at them by turning it into melodrama for laughs. When Lynard, leader of the white supremacy gang, “White Kingdom says to Nelson, “You remind me of my father,” Nelson tries to respond taking it as a compliment. Lynard leans in and says without blinking, “I KILLED HIM.” I just can’t help but laugh. I guess it’s the way they make light of the fear that every guy has in going to prison. It’s not just the freedo takes away, but your masculinity. If you’ve ever watched the video on Fleece Johnson aka “The Booty Warrior,” or you’ve just…been to prison… you know what I’m talking about.

Spike Lee’s film (or “joint”), The 25th Hour starring Edward Norton made me fear the idea of going to prison more than an PSA ever could. But LGTP just turns the entire thing on its head. Not that I want to go to prison or anything now (I don’t), but when you have Arnett breaking down in a cell and saying “It’s okay to cry…crying takes the sad out of you.” It makes me feel like nothing in life can be taken seriously.

It does have it good points as well, besides just laughing at others misfortunes. Being a comedy, I don’t want to try and lay out every joke for you, or even any plot points, as little as the story matters, Arnett’s character is such a jerk that him going to prison doesn’t really seem unjust. Certain transitions he goes through are nice. After being taken to jail for his initial crime, he speaks to his lawyer, and slams the phone down. He looks around to everyone in the jail and says with extreme authority, “I’ll buy this place and have it burned to the ground!”

Many jokes just need to be seen and heard though. Reading them here won’t do it justice, just one reason I don’t usually write articles on comedy. Not to mention, I don’t often agree with “mainstream comedy” I guess you could say. While the type of humor might intersect occasionally with LGTP, it beats the crap out of me why people love The Hangover so much, then decided the make the sequel/remake and have them become a couple of the highest grossing comedies of all time, with being number 1. Oy.

In any case, this movie is great. Especially because I’m the only one building it up for you because, chances are, you haven’t seen it and can make an unbiased opinion for yourself. You won’t have everybody rushing to you to tell you how hilarious it is. For me, it was the opposite if anything. The few people I knew that had seen it, hated it, making me thinking it wasn’t so bad, until it just grew on me. Let this grow on you, guys. Let it grow.

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