"Workaholics" is Sometimes Too Lazy to be Funny Review

Comedies that center around ridiculous and moronic characters have the potential to be hilarious in their send up of social mores that are actually quite idiotic when put under the microscope, but they also have the potential to be tiresome in their indulgence of stupidity for stupidity's sake. Workaholics walks like a drunkard along a line somewhere between the two, passing from one side to the other with reckless abandon. The third season has episodes that seem like they try way too hard to be outrageous and off the wall, while others play out like a brilliant reimagining of classic sitcom tropes. If the episodic plots were all winners, then the show could effectively make up for its other serious flaw: out of its three lead cast members (Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson) one of them can't discern the difference between obnoxious and humorous.

Don't get me wrong, at times, all three cast members score laughs and all three invariably behave obnoxiously. But only Adam DeVine seems to think that going as hard as he can in the direction obnoxiousness translates to funnier moments. All it really does is make his character predictable and occasionally feel like a man desperate to be considered as comedic Jack Black's heir (a dubious honor, at best). Anders Holm and Blake Anderson, by comparison, both go a little nuts and over-the-top themselves, but they sell it better. There's no wink at the camera on their part as if to try to inform us when to laugh. DeVine's a funny guy when he keeps himself controlled, but Workaholics tends to demand he goes too far towards self-awareness a bit too often.

Otherwise, Workaholics is a natural crowd-pleaser. On one hand the protagonists instantly make everyone feel just a little bit better about their own lives thanks to their dead end jobs as telemarketers which they can barely do and the way they spend their time off getting high and making some funny but boneheaded mistakes. In the process, they repeatedly attempt to find shortcuts that backfire, arrange horrendously inappropriate happenings (like inviting dates to an in-office memorial service), and engage in the classic TV trope of creating a fake life to convince a parent they're doing better than they actually are. Episodes like the latter are made all the better by random decisions like Adam and Blake choosing to butcher a cow in the middle of their home with no regard for the consequences. The joke produces visual gags throughout the episode that only compound the awkwardness of Anders's father's disapproval of his wayward slackerdom.

The one aspect of Workaholics that feels really inconsistent  though, is the group dynamic. Though all three are typically shown to be a bit daft, Anders switches off and on as the group's straight man off of whom the other two then bounce their zaniness. In terms of intelligence he seems to be all over the place. One second he's smart and collected enough to know that his friends' plan is incompetence incarnate, but the very next he's playing along in an equally incompetent scheme to scare away a drug dealer as the most unconvincing federal agent in the world. It simultaneously gives the show extra comedy but also baffles in its inability to keep things consistent. I can appreciate the writers just wanting to take the show wherever with shenanigans that sometimes require all three to be happy-go-lucky morons and at others needing a voice of reason, but at some point it just feels like lazy writing.

Then again, the characters of Workaholics are some of the laziest people on television, so maybe that's just the writers trying to empathize.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

Some hilarious audio commentaries and a blooper reel that rivals the episodes themselves are easily the highlights of the extras, but the alternate takes are almost as good. Finally mini-episodes of "The Other Cubicle" are also included.

*Name confusion corrected. Thanks to reader Hilda for correction.

"Workaholics: Season Three" is on sale June 18, 2013 and is not rated. Comedy. Directed by Kyle Newacheck. Written by Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Kyle Newacheck, Connor Pritchard, Dominic Russo. Starring Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson.

Jul
01
2013
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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