The Moleman of Belmont Avenue (DVD)

Just watch Hans Moleman’s Man Getting Hit With Football instead.

A pair of stoners (John LaFlamboy and Mike Bradecich, who also co-wrote and co-directed) recently inherited a brownstone apartment building. The place is falling apart, the handful of tenants are threatening to leave, and, worst of all, someone or something is killing all the pets in the building. Our dimwitted heroes investigate, believing that a pet-murdering moleman is lurking somewhere in the walls.

What a dud. A horror-comedy on the surface, The Moleman of Belmont Avenue goes strictly for the laughs. They’re shtick is basically always one-upping the other with their sarcastic putdowns. Whichever one is the straight man and which is the insulter varies from scene to scene, so there’s no sense of them playing characters. Almost the entire film is stars LaFlamboy and Bradecich mugging for the camera. They’re trying so hard to generate laughs that they cross the line into trying too hard. There’s a sense of smug satisfaction to their constant riffing on each other, as if they’re on the verge of cracking each other up, and assume the audience at home will be the same. Instead, it feels like a handful of sitcom one-liners stretched into an entire feature.

One of the movie’s big selling points is co-star Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), who plays one of the wacky tenants. He, too, hams it up in the hopes of competing the young guys’ manic gags. His role is really an extended cameo, though, and fans watching the flick just for him will walk away disappointed. Other cameos include Tim Kazurinski, one of the lesser-known Saturday Night Live alums, and Brian Boland of the Paranormal Activity sequels.

The disc’s picture quality can’t hide the movie’s low-budget video roots, but the picture is nonetheless clean. The stereo sound is a little flat, but dialogue is mostly clear. For extras, there’s a jokey commentary track, where LaFlamboy and Bradecich dare compare themselves to the Coen brothers and the Wachowskis, and a collection of production stills.

You could argue that I’m not the target audience for so-called “stoner comedy,” but I could argue back that comedy is comedy, period. The Moleman of Belmont Avenue didn’t inspire laughs. Instead, I just wanted it to end.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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