Watching “Lazer Team 2”, I was very strongly reminded of seeing Quentin Tarantino’s seminal crime drama “Pulp Fiction” in the cinema for the first time. I was bursting for a pee during the last half hour of that, too.
A few years on from the events of “Lazer Team” and the team has gone their separate ways. Herman (Colton Dunn) uses his dwindling fame to hawk crappy products, Hagan (Burnie Burns) is still looking for a job and Zach (Michael Jones) is nursing the bitterness of a footballing career cut short by having an irremovable alien laser canon stuck on his throwing arm. Only Woody (Gavin Free) has remained working for DETIA, helping design and build defences against future alien attacks. But when Woody is kidnapped by aliens, it’s up to scientist Maggie Whittington (Nichole Bloom) to get the band back together and rescue him.
A fairer cinematic comparison for “Lazer Team 2” would be “Ghostbusters 2”. The cast is all in place and the performances are there but somehow it just doesn’t quite spark the way the first one did. One of the reasons may be that it has to switch gear now that it’s a bonafide franchise. Where the original poked fun at the tropes and conventions of these kinds of battle suit/ chosen one sci-fi narratives, the sequel ends up embracing the clichés of the genre, so the team is broken up and then broken down, their outfits and tech stripped away and they have to find a way to work together and rediscover their team spirit to win all while fighting off hostile authority figures who want to shut their programme down.
That’s not to say it isn’t funny. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and some of the funniest portal jokes I’ve seen. There’s even some topical satire with the Government’s anti-Alien defence plan bearing a strong similarity to a proposed scheme by the current American president, replete with all the same flaws and problems but it just feels like everyone’s having to work a little too hard to inject the vitality the first movie had in abundance into this slightly underwhelming sequel. I remember reading an interview with Dan Aykroyd when he was asked about the difference between “Ghostbusters” and its sequel and he confessed that everyone involved had been excited about the script but that, for some reason, it just didn’t have that ‘snap’ when it hit the screen. “Lazer Team 2” feels like that. Now, I still enjoy “Ghostbusters 2” and I enjoyed “Lazer Team 2”, but they both can’t quite live up to their livelier predecessors.
So it’s a good, but not great, second outing for Lazer Team and although it’s a step down from the first one, I’m still on board for further adventures of this band of misfits, especially if the makers follow through on the wink-to-the-audience mid-credits hint. It’s not quite big enough for cinemas this time around, but it’s definitely worth checking out when it hits YouTube Red on November 22nd.