Sweet Dreams

DVD REVIEW:

Street Date 4/30/24;
Paramount;
Comedy;
$17.99 DVD;
Not rated.
Stars Johnny Knoxville, Mohammed Amer, Jay Mohr, Bobby Lee, Gata, Theo Von, Kate Upton, Beth Grant.

I was the first kid on my block to feast on “Jackass,” MTV’s heady fusion of bully boy camaraderie, slapstick humor and daredevil feats of scatalogical buffoonery that lives on as the best damn reality-TV series ever. Add to this four big-screen incarnations, as well as enough “.5’s” in the chronological scheme of things to constitute another couple of sequels. None of the jackassees had a greater shot at stardom than Johnny Knoxville, the troupe’s unofficial ringleader and congenial fathead par excellence. While “Jackass” co-founder Bam Margera’s substance-abuse problems continue to pepper the daily scroll of TMZ, Knoxville takes fictional drug dependence to a new level of ordinary with Sweet Dreams, writer-director Lije Sarki’s genre mashup that defies audiences to just say no to sober-living cinema that ends in a sporting event.

Stripped bare, bloody about the face, and with a strange dog poking a cold nose about his backside,

Morris (Knoxville) awakens on a park bench after a hardy night of drunken revelry. Sarki goes out of his way to italicize Knoxville’s likability; we see physical traces and hear tell of the mean drunk that lurks within Morris without ever witnessing it first-hand. Not surprisingly, the actor weathers the pathos well before competitive softball rears its ugly head to send the script careening headfirst into rigorously charted territory. Despite the embarrassment, humiliation and blackened eyes frequently associated with public intoxication, Sarki asks the audience to engage in a collective “Awww!” when immediately upon regaining consciousness, Morris asks the first stranger he sees to borrow a phone and call his young daughter. 

When not embodying the lifestyle of a down-for-the-count dipso, Morris makes cash as a music video director of note. His drug of choice is alcohol, and while he isn’t bucking for any father of the year awards, when it comes to his baby girl everything is going to be alright. We’ll soon learn the hard way that everything comes easily to Morris. His mother (Beth Grant), who talks a good game of sobriety while en route to the titular recovery residence, can’t help but play the enabler by keeping her eyes on the road while sonny boy sucks back airplane bottles of vodka. Curious to learn just how much Sarki is going to rely on Knoxville’s reputation for jackassery? The first thing Morris does upon arriving at Sweet Dreams is vomit on owner Pete’s (Mohammed Amer) shoes.

When it comes to diversity, all of the residents may look dissimilar, but so far as depth of character is concerned, they’re strictly unifunctional. Pete is the sagacious father figure who runs the place. Jake’s (Gata) purpose is to bring Morris and the audience up to speed on the rules of the house. Garvey (Theo Von) is the resident psychopath. Frank’s (Jay Mohr, outclassing the pack) millions couldn’t spare the future sober guru from a life of dependency. Tom Cruise (Bobby Lee), the only seven-year man in the house, earned the nickname when it was discovered that once upon a time he modeled underwear. Surf therapist Kat (Kate Upton) joins the team one year sober. The real life supermodel’s role is that of eye candy. Besides, who else is going to spout such lachrymose inanities as, “Misery doesn’t care what you look like.”

Softball is introduced at about the 20-minute mark. Why softball? The finance company is set to put the house up for sale if Pete can’t raise the money needed to pay off the loan. As luck would have it, a bus bench advertising for a softball tournament, first prize $80,000, is just what the script doctor ordered. As it turns out, Sweet Dreams isn’t the only place in danger of going under. Not long ago, a drunken Morris plowed his car into a restaurant for which he of course must make amends. Believe it or don’t, what goes on inside the house is of far greater interest than anything that takes place on the diamond. The sober-living stuff is tolerable, but once they hit the ballfield, it’s a long downward spiral through a forest of tropes including a bottom of the ninth, happily-ever-after slide into home by Morris’ daughter. When it comes to tying up loose ends, Sweet Dreams is enough to trigger night-terrors.

‘PawParazzi’ Due March 19 From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the Dove-approved family film PawParazzi on DVD, digital and on demand March 19.

The film finds the cushy life of a pampered Hollywood dog named Latte (voiced by Kristy Swanson) turned upside down when her actress owner (Sara Fletcher) heads to the boonies to make a new film. The cast also includes Jay Mohr.

The DVD will include a “Hot Off the Press with PawParazzi” featurette.