Martin & Orloff

It started with an interesting challenge between friends: Take an image that's the furthest thing from funny and spin it into a comedy. Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts — founding members of the celebrated New York City improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade and, with Katie Roberts, the writers and stars of this unconventional buddy comedy — figured...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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It started with an interesting challenge between friends: Take an image that's the furthest thing from funny and spin it into a comedy. Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts — founding members of the celebrated New York City improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade and, with Katie Roberts, the writers and stars of this unconventional buddy comedy — figured the sight of a failed suicide mopping up his own blood from a bathroom floor would be an excellent place to start. Tragic? No question. Funny? For the most part, yes. Martin Flam (Roberts), who designs character costumes for a Manhattan marketing firm's food industry clients, is considered one of the best funny-character man in the business, but he decides to end it after a young actor wearing one of Martin's "China Chef" egg roll suits accidentally falls into the Hudson River and drowns. Martin survives, and — after cleaning up all the blood from his bathroom floor — returns back to the office to begin work on an equally dangerous China Chef campaign, only this time it's spareribs. To help him cope, Martin makes an appointment with psychiatrist Dr. Orloff (Walsh) — an homage to the fiendish physician in Jess Franco 1961 gorefest THE HORRIBLE DR. ORLOFF, perhaps? — who, even though he promises to target Martin's destructive behavior patterns and modify them, doesn't seem particularly interested in helping at all. During their very first session together, Orloff, a whirling dervish of chaos with a severe attention deficit disorder, scarfs down his lunch, puffs on a cigar then interrupts Martin mid-sentence to race uptown for a softball game. He insists Martin come with him, and thus begins a psychotic chain of events that finds Martin arrested, released, paired off with an amorous stripper (Amy Poehler), repeatedly whacked in the cajones by a crazed Gulf War vet (Matt Besser), and eventually scraping up the courage to just say "no!" to potentially deadly sparerib costumes. It's pretty clear that much of the script emerged from a series of improv sketches: It's full of inspired yuks and narrative lapses. The growing friendship between Martin and the apparently insane Orloff is a little tough to swallow — a serious drawback in a buddy comedy — and more importantly, Orloff never really coalesces into a coherent character. But while the whole may not be as good as its parts, the parts — often studded with comedian cameos — can be very funny. There a hilarious parody of Steel Magnolias that stars Janeane Garofalo and SNL's Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch; Andy Richter appears as an unctuous dinner-theater maitre d'; and the suspenseful climax features a collapsing rope bridge, three girl scouts dressed as four-foot high spareribs, a flying sweet potato pie and an enormous penis. What more do you want out of a comedy?

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: It started with an interesting challenge between friends: Take an image that's the furthest thing from funny and spin it into a comedy. Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts — founding members of the celebrated New York City improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigad… (more)

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