Combustible Celluloid
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With: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Riki Lindhome, David Pasquesi, David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Kumail Nanjiani, Alex Berg
Written by: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Directed by: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use
Running Time: 98
Date: 09/06/2013

Hell Baby (2013)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Psycho Tyke

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon -- co-creators of the "Reno 911!" series and movie, as well as Balls of Fury -- Hell Baby is certainly not the worst horror comedy of all time (see Transylmania). It's told in a series of related sketches, rather than a tightly constructed plot, and the actors were allowed to improvise; no one is weighed down by bad writing. In this environment, every once in a while, a decent joke makes it through, or at least jokes so odd or unlikely that you may find yourself amused later.

Jack (Rob Corddry) and his very pregnant wife Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) move into a run-down fixer-upper house in a dangerous neighborhood in New Orleans. They learn that it's called the "house of blood," and that several murders have been committed there. It's not long before Vanessa begins acting strangely, speaking in dog language, and sucking at bloody raw meat in the refrigerator. A neighbor F'resnel (Keegan Michael Key) and two cops try to help, but it soon becomes apparent that they will need more spiritual help. Fortunately, Fathers Sebastian and Padrigo (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) are on hand.

The cast members are, at the very least, largely likeable. Keegan Michael Key often strikes just the right note as the offbeat neighbor F'resnel, and Riki Lindhome is appealing as Vanessa's kooky sister. However, most of it is still pretty bad. It often feels lazy and, when in doubt, falls back on bad taste. A large percentage of the jokes just fall flat, and the bulk of the movie is annoyingly repetitive, which only smacks of desperation.

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