Doug Benson is very funny.
Whether or not you agree with the above statement is a good barometer of how you’ll feel about the perpetually inebriated comedian’s latest film, The Greatest Movie Ever Rolled. Unlike his previous effort, Super High Me, this one is akin to a Morgan Spurlock documentary in name only. This one follows Benson on tour with comedy partner Graham Elwood as they traverse through the American midwest. It’s not about smoking marijuana for 30 consecutive days, although that probably happens within the film. This movie is simply a road movie. Two comedians and the open road. Which is where it begins to rely heavily on how much you are entertained by these two men.
From a technical standpoint, it’s a capably made documentary. Director Ryan Polito, whose major credits include a number of Taylor Swift concert films, has knack for keeping things naturalistic and cutting out a lot of the fat that can exist when you shoot 21 days of doc footage. Despite the fact that the plot is simplistic – Doug Benson gets high, does a show, gets in a car, rinse and repeat with slight variations – the film moves efficiently between moments of stand-up based humor.
Benson has plenty of charm to him and his observational humor gets laughs, whether you’re inebriated or not, but the question becomes whether or not there’s enough steam here to carry an entire film. That’s where personal preference comes in. Unlike Super High Me, there’s no narrative device to The Greatest Movie Ever Rolled. It’s no different than any other comedy tour road movie you’ve seen.
What makes it interesting is that Benson shows a bit of his world as a comedian who is well-connected with his fans and other like-minded folk. Through his podcast, Doug Loves Movies, his various TV ventures, and his Twitter following, Benson is perhaps one of the pioneers in his business at the business of social media. A movie about “what Doug is up to now” could have shown a bit more about that, not just snippets of Doug spending time smoking with fans by dumpsters outside of comedy clubs in Oklahoma. That’s a far more interesting story than what we’re presented in The Greatest Movie Ever Rolled.
Does that make Greatest Movie less entertaining? Not at all. Benson is still quite funny, but one wonders of the potential of exploring what makes Doug Benson such a success in the niche he’s carved out for himself. It’s great to see him self-producing a movie and giving his fans what they want, but there’s clearly more to the story. And that’s the movie I’d love to see. That said, this one will do for now.
The Upside: Doug Benson and Graham Elwood deliver the funny. The stand-up bits are a lot of fun and at times, the doc serves as an intimate look into life on the road.
The Downside: Less of a downside and more of a wishlist item is a more creative narrative. Just another road movie is… well, just another road movie.
On the Side: The film does feature a great soundtrack, including a credits song from the delightful duo Garfunkel and Oates.