lazer_team_4Year: 2016
Director: Matt Hullum
Writer(s): Bernie Burns, Chris Demarais, Joshua Flanagan, Matt Hullum
Region of Origin: US
Rating: PG-13
Digital, Color, 102 mins

Synopsis: Four losers are thrust into the position of saving the world when they stumble upon a UFO crash site and become genetically equipped to the battle suit on board. (Source)

Lasers, aliens, mullets, angsty burnouts, Rooster Teeth’s debut feature film Lazer Team’s got it all. The result of a wildly successful crowd-funding campaign, the final product is an unabashed party film, replete with fun characters, intergalactic threats and one whopper of a premise. A superhero/alien invasion hybrid at heart, the story doesn’t add anything new to the genre, but is consistently fun and clever, anchored by a sincere cast and inventive use of its meager budget. Whether you come for the laughs or the slacker heroics, Lazer Team is a safe bet, best seen with a group of friends or a crowded theatre.

The story features four small-town losers who find themselves simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s Hagan (Burnie Burns), a local security guard, Herman (Colton Dunn), a disgraced hometown hero, Zach (Michael Jones), the dim-witted jock and Woody (Gavin Free), who basically has nothing to offer other than wicked mullet. A series of events leads to them to inadvertently crash an alien craft carrying precious cargo. Within the downed UFO is a suit, sent to earth from an alien race to help stave off an incoming invasion. The four slackers misguidedly put on a different element of the suit – Hagan, a gauntlet that acts like a shield, Herman, boots which give the user superhuman speed, Zach, a laser arm cannon and Woody, a helmet that bestows supernatural intelligence. Realizing too late that the suit has bonded with each of them, the four men, who can barely stand each other, must overcome their differences and learn to fight as a team in order to save the human race.

Splitting one super suit between four disparate, well-meaning goofballs proves to be such a great idea, that the film is able to prevent itself from becoming a one-note joke. Though not completely a satire, the script does have fun with superhero trappings and makes use of its alien technology in more ways than just showing it in action. You’ll get the usual training montages, quirky alien creatures, B-movie hysterics and a few clever sight gags, but in the end, the suit is an excuse to find the humor and heart of its characters – it’s a very well-rounded experience that doesn’t repeat itself often, equating to an adequately satisfying, oddball underdog story. Above all, this is a film that knows its strengths and weaknesses, playing to the former and masking limitations with charm.

lazer_team_3If we’re being honest, the film’s real success can be attributed to the spry performers who throw themselves into the story’s absurdity in a way that feels relatable and infectious. The best thing about them is how different they are, and some of the best moments come from contrasting not only their character traits but comedic strengths. They’re easily the type of group that are fun to watch even if they’re just hanging out, with chemistry that hooks us right from the start. Burnie Burns’ Hagan brings the heart, Gavin Free’s Woody, cleverly using his British accent is the deadpan wit, Michael Jones’ Zach is the everyman jock and Colton Dunn’s Herman is the party. You can’t go wrong with these guys.

Lazer Team is light, fun and maybe inconsequential, but you won’t feel bad after watching it. Unlike most modern genre films or parodies, it doesn’t have the cynicism or baggage so rampant in the scene, but instead lovingly embraces its DIY ethic, playing like a dialogue between fans of the genre who love it for better and worse. Because of that, there’s an authenticity to the film that you don’t often see, with director Matt Hullum finding a catchy balance between the film’s consistent laughs and endearing lo-fi spectacle.