Film Review: ‘Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?’

To call this feeble comedy a misfire would be to give it more credit than it's due.

Andrea Anders, Matt Passmore, Horatio Sanz, John Michael Higgins, Lauren Bowles, Christine Estabrook, John Heard, Kevin Conway, Cloris Leachman.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4196832/

There are bad movies, and then there are worse movies, and then there are full-bore misfires such as “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?” Loosely based on Aristophanes’ “Lysistrada” — the 2,000-year-old Greek play that previously has inspired everything from a Wild West movie musical (1955’s “The Second Greatest Sex”) to an undeservedly short-lived Broadway extravaganza  (“Lysistrada Jones,” a.k.a “Give It Up!”) to a Spike Lee Joint (“Chi-Raq”) — writer-director Matt Cooper’s smutty, smarmy farrago plays like the sort of wink-wink, nudge-nudge B-movie flotsam that might have amused habitués of Deep South drive-ins during the 1970s.

The level of humor is established early on when the audience is informed that everything will unfold in a small Texas town where the population is 6,969. (No, really.) Cooper evidences a colossal amount of tastelessness in launching his plot by having a grade-schooler swiping a handgun from his father’s closet to impress a classmate, then inadvertently wounding a crosswalk guard. It’s difficult to forget how many times such a tragedy has unfolded in real life, and pretty close to impossible not to feel uncomfortable as this misadventure is played for laughs.

Actually, Jenna Keeley (Andrea Anders) doesn’t think the near-fatal gunplay is funny at all. Indeed, she’s so upset that she attempts to convince her husband Glenn (Matt Passmore), a fellow who likes to hunt and loves to own guns, to give up his weapons for the sake of his family and society at large. Not surprisingly, Glenn refuses to have anyone, even his wife, limit his right to bear arms. One thing leads to another, through a series of complications that are meant to be funny, but aren’t, and Jenna eventually succeeds in uniting other wives and girlfriends in town in her campaign to withhold sexual favors from men who aren’t willing to disarm.

When it isn’t straining for cheap laughs with horny guys, alluring wives and girlfriends, stereotypically sex-obsessed Hispanics, and blustering gun-culture extremists (at one point, an NRA-type offers to provide hookers for sexually frustrated townsmen), “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?” relies on veteran supporting players to make fools of themselves. Cloris Leachman shamelessly panders as a randy golden-ager whose foul-mouthed quips about fellatio, vibrators, and other naughty bits are meant to elicit giggles, while John Heard, cast as the town’s sheriff, suggests that bashing a shark with a bar stool in “Sharknado” really wasn’t the low point of his career.

To say anything else about this debacle, or the people for whom it provided an easy paycheck, would be needlessly unkind.

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Film Review: 'Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?'

Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Sept. 13, 2016. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 95 MIN.

Production: An Area 23a release of a The Vault production. Producers: Lori Miller, Matt Cooper. Executive producer: David Cooper.

Crew: Director, writer: Matt Cooper. Camera (color): Armando Salas. Editor: Luis Colina.

With: Andrea Anders, Matt Passmore, Horatio Sanz, John Michael Higgins, Lauren Bowles, Christine Estabrook, John Heard, Kevin Conway, Cloris Leachman.

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