Killing Hasselhoff (2016) DVD Review: The Stoner Comedy of the Year

“I was gonna cap on The Hoff, but then I got high.” Were they to have made it at least ten years ago, Killing Hasselhoff might be considered a cult classic unto its own today. Alas, as is frequently the case in Hollywood, poorly-written scripts for godawful Michael Bay movies always receive priority over something an aspiring screenwriter who actually has an imagination. And it’s a pity, too, because I’ll gladly take ten more movies like Killing Hasselhoff any ol’ day. Even if the many production companies and distributors responsible for promoting the movie ‒ a short list, yes, but one that includes both Universal Studios Home Entertainment and (gulp!) WWE Studios, thus automatically making this the best film ever produced by a group of overrated and washed-up wrasslin’ weirdos.

Speaking of overrated and washed-up weirdos, Darren Grant’s meager little independent wonder offers us its fair share of those, too, nicely mixed in with an ensemble of improvisational comics who ultimately make the movie work to the best of its ability. Providing such a thing is even possible. I mean, there’s really no getting around the fact that Killing Hasselhoff is and will more than likely be (vaguely) remembered as being a “bad” movie. But when you take a moment to consider newcomer Peter Hoare’s script really was written in 2007 (two years before The Hangover, kids), during a time when outrageous comedies were piquing the curiosities of many ‒ to say nothing of the genuinely unoriginal and impossibly unfunny infesting cineplexes today ‒ well, honestly, where does one draw the line?

Starring filmdom’s modern-day equivalent to They Call Me Bruce? legend Johnny Yune, Killing Hasselhoff finds Ken Jeong as a Los Angeles nightclub owner who is in big to loan shark Will Sasso. Were that not bad enough, his club’s scheduled guest ‒ David Hasselhoff (doing the self-awareness thing that saved Shatner’s career in the late ’90s with Free Enterprise) ‒ decides to go party at another establishment, leaving room for a horrible mishap involving some celebrity cokeheads in the VIP Room. With the possibility of going on living becoming increasingly thin, Ken determines there is only one thing to do: He must assassinate his pick for the celebrity death pool he belongs to, which will make him privy to the $500,000 payout. Because that’s how the American Dream is achieved, right?

Look, of course it’s stupid! But, unlike the recent, abominable big-screen spoofs of Baywatch and CHiPs (both of which actually saw a theatrical release based on their marketable brandings rather than quality or taste, mind you), Universal’s direct-to-video release is just dumb enough to be highly enjoyable if you can catch this one while you’re in the proper mindset.

Namely, when you’re stoned out of your goddamn gourd.

Easily the Stoner Comedy of the Year in my book (and a heavyweight contender for Best In-Flight Movie of the Year), Killing Hasselhoff is an unapologetically offensive and ridiculous jab at the terrible worlds of celebrity reality TV and the unwarranted subcultures which they have spawned. Interestingly, the 2016 film sets the stage for Hasselhoff’s recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 “Inferno” video. Here, The Hoff’s over-the-top fictional self is obsessed with making a superhero musical ‒ a concept his manager, as played by Jon Lovitz, highly disapproves of. It also sets the stage for improv comics Rhys Darby, Jim Jefferies, and Colton Dunn to crack a heap of jokes along with Jeong; which The Hoff plays right along with like he’s havin’ the time of his life. Which he probably was.

Naturally, as one might expect, dumb in-jokes abound here, including many jabs at Hasselhoff’s career in America and abroad, from his TV hits Knight Rider and Baywatch to his cameo in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (the disturbing prop of which makes an appearance here) to his always-fascinating status as a musical legend in Germany. Even as these jokes begin to wear thin, however, the quips from the improv boys keep things mellow. Watching Hasselhoff jump into slo-mo Baywatch mode to save the life of party guest Michael (Police Academy) Winslow ‒ who has made the near-fatal mistake of drinking a spiked concoction served by our protagonist ‒ isn’t terribly funny. But the inserted close-up of Ken Jeong asking himself he’s running in slow motion can be. Once again, providing you’re high.

Also appearing in this enjoyably absurd comedy (which throws in a proverbial shot of boobs just to fill the quota) are Dan Bakkedahl, Ron Funches, Scott Mescudi, Gena Lee Nolin, Rick Fox, and something named Justin Beiber. A heap of additional celebrity cameos ‒ ranging from Howie Mandel, Melanie Brown, and even WWF heroes Hulk Hogan and The Iron Sheik ‒ can be found in Universal’s one and only special feature for this otherwise barebones DVD release, a collection of deleted scenes. Compared to the film (stay with me here, kids), they aren’t particularly funny. Not when you have a better set of outtakes playing out over the end credits. To say nothing of the musical duet Hasselhoff and Jeong engage in shortly before that. Honestly, this one boggles the mind in so many peculiar ways!

From a technical standpoint, Universal’s SD (only) release presents Killing Hasselhoff in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. English (SDH) subs are included, as are additional subtitle options in French, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai ‒ indicating the territories Universal will proudly dump this title. The layout of the DVD artwork and its non-existent advertising campaign are just as indicative of Universal’s faith in their own property, as it doesn’t even try to sell the movie to anyone in any way, shape, or form. And while that may probably be for the best, I can’t help but be slightly perturbed by the fact other, far worse time-wasters such as Warcraft and Central Intelligence hit theaters while this one sat on the shelf for some reason. Go ahead and think about that one for a minute.

I’m sure it goes without saying I enjoyed Killing Hasselhoff a bit too much for all of the wrong reasons. But I’ll recommend this “so bad, it’s good” comedy just the same, even if the only people who will be able to appreciate it are probably going to be stoners and/or people stuck on long boring flights.

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Luigi Bastardo

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