By Conor Hogan
TWO DRINK MINIMUM Issue 10 June 2004

Hacks, a 2002 film and recent DVD release, follows five stereotypes of the worst possible comedians on their journey to fame and success. There is the alternative comic who prefers not to speak, the out-of-touch impressionist, the black comic who happens to be an albino, the disabled observational humorist and the female comedian whose entire act centers around her breasts and her period. Leading the comics is the cut-rate management team of Diamond & Hutz, a pair of flamboyant professionals who promise to be "the first step towards show-biz mortality."

Shot as a mockumentary in the spirit of This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show, Hacks is a madhouse of over-the-top improvisation and unforgiving amusement. Writer-director Glenn Rockowitz never shies away from finding humor in racism, sexism or the unavoidable calamities that surround the disabled. There are flashes of sheer hilarity in Hacks, but there are also points when the 83-minute film drags to a sluggish pace. The constant testimonials tend to get in the way of the plotline, and upon reaching the movie's climax - a group trip to the disastrous Upstate Comedy Festival — the audience is left a bit unfulfilled. The film is honest and unapologetic, yet Hacks fades out on an anticlimactic note.

None of the "comedians" stand out as particularly unforgettable; rather it is Jim Gaffigan playing Arty Hittle, an aloof comedy coach, who provides Hacks' most memorable persona. Although he appears only in one scene (and a bonus DVD feature), Gaffigan's dry wit and awkward gestures provide the funniest interactions between characters.

In one of the most amusing moments, Skully, the disabled observational humorist, looks into the camera and says, "I'm not book smart, but I'd say that I am magazine smart." Hacks is similar in that regard. It isn't the most brilliant film ever, but it churns out some good laughs and gets the job done. Hacks is available at www.FilmThreatDVD.com. - Conor Hogan

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