Television Review: “The Out-Laws” — Another Goofball Rolling By
By Sarah Osman
The Out-Laws is another mild diversion spat out of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison factory.
The latest offerings from Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison, have found a new home: Netflix. Some of these films have been nothing less than atrocious (Hubie Halloween), while others have managed to cough up a few laughs (The Wrong Missy), and one or two approach serving up decently amusing entertainment (Murder Mystery). The latest entry, The Out-Laws, falls somewhere in the middle of what has become the company’s dependably mediocre range. It is one of Adam Devine’s better vehicles, but too many of his fellow passengers are the usual stereotypical, one-dimensional characters that Happy Madison specializes in.
The plot? Owen Browning (Adam Devine) is a young bank manager who is inexplicably engaged to the stunning Parker McDermott (Nina Dobrev, whose considerable talents are wasted). This engagement continues the questionable tradition of men in Happy Madison families who inexplicably attract women that far surpass them. There’s a week to go until the couple’s wedding, and Parker’s mysterious parents come to town, anxious to see their daughter wed. They are less than thrilled with Owen, whom they test via a sky-diving excursion and a rip-roaring drunk spree. A day later, the infamous ghost bandits rob Owen’s bank. He suspects Parker’s parents may be behind it, which skews the film into action heist territory.
Devine’s slapstick shtick isn’t as insufferable as it has become elsewhere. At one point, he dons a Shrek costume for a robbery and it is hilarious to watch him get beat up in the outfit. He’s not as strong here as he was in The Righteous Gemstones, but that’s not Devine’s fault. The Out-Laws script is pretty anemic. But in this film he’s far more lovable; Devine plays a hapless goofball with infectious enthusiasm.
Devine is surrounded by actors who seem to be having as much fun as he is. Pierce Brosnan and Ellen Barkin star as Parker’s enigmatic parents. Their seriousness serves as the perfect foil to the protagonist’s silliness. Richard Kind and Julie Hagerty play Owen’s parents. Both think their son is an idiot, but he didn’t fall far from the tree. Owen’s mom concludes that Parker is a stripper because she runs a yoga studio. The two different sets of parents supply plenty of amusement, which sadly can’t be said for the rest of the cast. Devine’s “coworker,” Blake Anderson, is woefully dull as Owen’s sketchy cousin, as are the rest of Owen’s relatives. Talented actors, including Lauren Lapkus, Poorna Jagannathan, and Betsy Sodaro, are underutilized, saddled with lame dialogue dedicated to scoring cheap laughs. Sometimes the punch lines are inexplicable. Lapkus, who plays the manager of a high-security bank, keeps commenting on how the locks make her lactate — an uncomfortable joke with no real payoff. Thankfully, the always brilliant Lil’ Rel Howery gets to shine, especially because he gets to state the obvious about Owen’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée — he always thought Parker was imaginary.
So, The Out-Laws is another mild diversion spat out of the Happy Madison factory. It is the kind of mind-wasting comedy you can watch while cooking dinner. Still, it has the honor of being far from the worst of the company’s movies — that title still goes to the execrable Hubie Halloween.
Sarah Mina Osman is a writer residing in Wilmington, NC. In addition to writing for the Arts Fuse, she has written for Watercooler HQ, Huffington Post, HelloGiggles, Young Hollywood, and Matador Network, among other sites. Her work was included in the anthology Fury: Women’s Lived Experiences in the Trump Era. She is currently a first year fiction MFA candidate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. When she’s not writing, she’s dancing, watching movies, traveling, or eating. She has a deep appreciation for sloths and tacos. You can keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram: @SarahMinaOsman