Wasabi Tuna

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 05/07/07 22:50:17

"Oh, it's a drag, alright..."
1 stars (Sucks)

OK, so when the sight of Alexis Arquette as an Anna Nicole Smith-worshipping drag queen is the least obnoxious thing in your movie, it’s time to get a new movie.

“Wasabi Tuna” is a garish, misguided attempt to crossbreed the wild antics of screwball comedy with the high campiness of gay culture. In more capable hands, the combination would work. But here, in what we shall politely call incapable hands, the damn thing becomes a cringe-inducing nightmare of unfunny jokes and irritating characters.

When we first meet Evan (Jason London) and Harvey (Barney Cheng), they’ve been hauled into the police station for questioning, something to do with drugs and guns. Through flashback, we learn the truth: the couple and their friends were prepping for a wild Halloween bash, where they would dress like gangbangers, only their plans wound up crossing paths with real gangbangers and their guns. Basic mistaken identity stuff, guys picking up the wrong bag, that sort of thing.

But this is not enough. And so we get a subplot in which Evan and Harvey are hired to deliver a pricey vase, from which a quartet of tranny Anna Nicole look-alikes come to believe our heroes have stolen Anna Nicole Smith’s precious dog Sugar Pie.

In order for any of this to work, all the characters are required to be selfish, single-minded, and embarrassingly stupid. Which they are, in spades. But they do nothing funny to make up for their idiocy. The cast - which also includes Tim Meadows and Antonio Sabato, Jr., in straight-guy-pal roles; Alanna Ubach, whose comic talents go completely to waste; and Cheng in a shoddy dual role as an old Chinese drug dealer, yawn - stumbles about aimlessly, hoping hammy line readings and exaggerated reactions will make up for the complete absence of anything worth while.

The idea is to play everything to the hilt, to squeeze that last ounce of gay-fabulous out of the over-the-top jokes. Everyone involved aims for the camp factor, but nobody actually bothers to wonder if camp alone will make things funny. (Hint: it doesn’t.) Instead, it’s tiresome and shrill, and too many of the jokes run on and on past every breaking point. Then comes Anna Nicole Smith, whose cameo should have been a clever thirty-second appearance at the end, but is instead a drawn-out affair that runs throughout much of the movie. It doesn’t help that Smith has trouble even with the simple task of playing herself.

As a title, “Wasabi Tuna” is a limp reference to a food-related costume idea the characters have, and I suppose it works about as well as anything else. After all, it’s just like the movie itself: meaningless and forgettable.

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