March 30, 2006

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Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (PG-13)
reviewed by Amy Diaz

Helping Hollywood fulfill its annual quota of fart jokes and boobie-related humor (it’s a number, I think, that is federally mandated), comedian Larry the Cable Guy plays a health inspector fond of sleeveless shirts and Moon Pies in Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.

The comedy of Larry the Cable Guy might best be described as soft-core redneck. It is not openly hateful toward immigrants, gay people and women, even though they are the targets of most of the derision. It is a type of comedy that finds anything genital-, digestive-system- or boob-related absolutely hilarious and uses wisecracks to cover up a fear of the great Other — be that other a girl colleague or a plate of sushi. Is Larry the Cable Guy the expression of a subculture’s (the working-class white males’) unease at a world changing too fast? Is he an outlet for the modern guy who feels pressure to be sympathetic without feeling like anyone is sympathizing with him? Is he perhaps an extreme caricature of a subculture (essentially, the NASCAR dad) that despite his marginalization in the media landscape nonetheless deserves some societal attention, in part because of this population segment’s ability to swing elections?

Or perhaps I’m over-thinking a movie that has as its central theme the fact that eyedrops, when placed in food, can give you the runs. After first causing you to fart.

The gist: Larry (who also occasionally goes by Dan Whitney but is mostly Larry the Cable Guy) is a health inspector of crude manner but good heart. He grosses out the populace but he evaluates restaurants fairly, a fact that even his long- suffering boss (Thomas Wilson, though forever Biff to fans of Back to the Future) must admit. That boss wouldn’t sniff at a chance to oust Larry, however, and so he gives this uncouth crusader a partner, the straight arrow Amy Butlin (Iris Bahr) — who is both unfortunately named and fashion backward (thus making Larry think she’s a boy). They investigate a rash of food poisonings at upscale restaurants — each and every one of which allows for maximum scatological humor. With the pooping and farting all taken care of, the film gives Larry Jane (Megyn Price), a love interest to provide the boobie humor.

Placed side by side on a torturer’s work bench Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and Date Movie might appear to be instruments possible of causing the same type of painful wound. But, if forced to choose the method of my injury, I would pick Health Inspector. Because, yes, it stings but not unbearably so and it doesn’t leave marks.

Health Inspector is godawful, to be sure, but it moves right along and doesn’t gloat over its own stupidity, the way Date Movie does, or weigh itself down with saccharine “meaning,” as The Shaggy Dog does. Pooping is funny; hey look at those boobies; wow, it’s Kid Rock — and about 90 minutes later it’s over. D+


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