Diehard fans of the blue collar comic known as Larry the Cable Guy may be the only ones savoring his redneck shtick in this rattletrap star vehicle. But Lionsgate has successfully mined a similarly underserved niche market with equally unsophisticated fare, so this Red State-skewing trifle could post surprising theatrical numbers.

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” is aimed squarely, if not exclusively, at auds who won’t look at the title and immediately think: “What’s this? A sequel to that Jim Carrey comedy?” Diehard fans of the blue collar comic known as Larry the Cable Guy may be the only ones savoring his redneck shtick in this rattletrap star vehicle. But Lionsgate has successfully mined a similarly underserved niche market with equally unsophisticated fare — note the B.O. numbers for Tyler Perry’s pics — so this Red State-skewing trifle could post surprising theatrical numbers. However, “Cable Guy” is more likely to be a DVD fave.

As its title indicates, pic finds gainful employment for the trademark Larry persona, a none-too-bright but not-quite-stupid good ol’ boy who’s fond of Moon Pies, cold beer and flannel shirts with ripped sleeves. He’s a Florida public health inspector, apparently because he has failed at everything else.

Although he’s newly saddled with an uptight, by-the-book partner — Amy Butlin (Iris Bahr), whose surname and mannish attire trigger rather too many lame jokes — Larry approaches his job with an easygoing attitude that could easily be mistaken for sloth. But when someone causes a rash of food poisonings in his city’s swankiest restaurants, Larry proves capable of playing detective with rude cunning and improbable skill.

Scripters Jonathan Bernstein and Jim Greer provide a wispy plot involving the possible rigging of an “Iron Chef”-style competition. But the scenario serves merely as an excuse for Larry to crack wise, break wind — so loudly, in fact, one can almost see how bad his farts smell — and drop malapropisms. At one point, he insists he has nothing against gays: “I’m not homeopathic!”

Entirely comfortable as the crude character he has honed in countless stand-up routines and TV appearances, Larry the Cable Guy sustains a level of likeability that enables him to get away with a lot more than he has any right to. (He even manages to skate past some borderline-offensive tomfoolery about his mentally challenged neighbor.) But, he remains very much an acquired taste.

For auds immune to his particular charm, there’s very little here besides a few game supporting performances (Bahr is self-effacingly funny, and Megyn Price is sweetly sexy the object of Larry’s affection) and a plethora of gags about flatulence, projectile vomiting and other bodily functions. First-time feature helmer Trent Cooper directs in a style that can most charitably be described as unobtrusive.

Jerry Mathers appears fleetingly for an in-jokey cameo, playing himself as a thoroughly bored celebrity judge of the chef competition. It’s a bit too easy to empathize with his reaction to everything going on around him.

Tech values are, at best, unremarkable.

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector

Production

A Lionsgate release of a Lionsgate and Parallel Entertainment Pictures presentation of a Shala Entertainment/Samwilla production. Produced by Alan Blomquist, J.P. Williams. Executive producer, Emily Wolfe. Directed by Trent Cooper. Screenplay, Jonathan Bernstein, Jim Greer.

Crew

Camera (FotoKem color), Kim Marks; editor, Greg Featherman; music, Steven R. Phillips and Tim P.; production designer, Macie Vener; art director, Andrew White; set decorator, Vera Mills; costume designer, Beverly Safier; sound (Dolby Digital), Billy Byers; associate producer, Maggie Houlehan; assistant director, Michael Zimbrich; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, March 24, 2006. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 89 MIN. Also: Kid Rock, Jerry Mathers.

Cast

Larry - Larry the Cable Guy Amy Butlin - Iris Bahr Big Shug - Bruce Bruce Lily Micelli - Joanna Cassidy Brenda - Brooke Dillman Jack Dobbs - Tony Hale Donnie - David Koechner Jane's Mom - Lisa Lampanelli Jane Whitley - Megyn Price Art Tatlock - Tom Wilson Mayor M.T. Gunn - Joe Pantoliano

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