Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain (2023, dir. Paul Briganti)

by | Dec 10, 2023

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 92 mins

UK Distributor: Universal Pictures

UK Release Date: 8 December 2023

WHO’S IN PLEASE DON’T DESTROY: THE TREASURE OF FOGGY MOUNTAIN?

Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, Ben Marshall, Bowen Yang, Meg Stalter, X Mayo, Nichole Sakura, Cedric Yarbrough, Sunita Mani, Conan O’Brien, John Goodman

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Paul Briganti (director), Martin Herlihy, John Higgins and Ben Marshall (writers), Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller (producers), Amie Doherty (composer), Isiah Donté Lee (cinematographer), Daniel Gabbe (editor)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Three friends (Herlihy, Higgins and Marshall) set out on an epic adventure…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON PLEASE DON’T DESTROY: THE TREASURE OF FOGGY MOUNTAIN?

There certainly isn’t a shortage of movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches – Wayne’s World, The Blues Brothers, Coneheads, A Night at the Roxbury and more are all at your disposal – but movies based on actual SNL players are much rarer. Occasionally, you’ll get a film that sensationalises or parodies the life of certain cast members, often with disastrous results (the much-despised 1989 John Belushi biopic Wired is a perfect example of this), but where Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain differs is in how it just rolls with the fast-paced sense of humour that the comedy troupe – who first gained attention on YouTube before contributing to SNL with a series of popular shorts, not unlike The Lonely Island before them – have become widely known for.

However, as with most films that have their roots in the long-running variety sketch show, there’s a case to be made that what might work as short-form entertainment doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate that well into a much longer feature. In this particular context, there are a lot of very funny individual moments scattered throughout the film, but when strung together to make an actual movie, it doesn’t entirely work.

The film stars Please Don’t Destroy trio Martin Herlihy, John Higgins and Ben Marshall as fictional versions of themselves, who were childhood friends that are now facing the realities of their mid-to-late 20s. In addition to working together at an outdoor store run by Ben’s father Farley (Conan O’Brien), they’ve got their own problems to deal with, such as Ben hoping to take over managership of his father’s store, and Martin looking to start a future with his girlfriend Amy (Nichole Sakura). Only the directionless JOhn appears to cling onto the past, especially when he manages to convince his friends to resume their childhood quest to find the fabled treasure of the nearby Foggy Mountain: an ancient bust of Marie Antoinette said to be worth millions. However, the friends constantly face stiff obstacles on their journey, including greedy park rangers played by comedians Meg Stalter and X Mayo, intense encounters with hawks, and a woodland cult run by fellow SNL castmate Bowen Yang (as a very Bowen Yang character you’d expect him to actually play on the show).

As with many of the Please Don’t Destroy shorts – which you can find easily on YouTube – The Treasure of Foggy Mountain is a humorous shaggy dog story that gets increasingly chaotic and surreal the further that it progresses. It is all told through a script (written by the trio themselves) that sets itself up as a gag-per-minute rollercoaster of comedy, usually delivered in rapid-fire succession between the three stars who playfully add to the bizarre nature of their situation with their peculiar reactions to said oddness. More often than not, the humour lands close enough to the target, with some well-timed moments of slapstick and line deliveries that score some strong laughs from their execution alone. The film even utilises its narrator, who happens to be John Goodman, for a few very funny contributions, including once when he just flat-out tells the audience that he’s John Goodman from The Big Lebowski.

There are all sorts of funny moments like this throughout the film – but that’s just it: they are moments, individual vignettes that work best as self-contained segments of hilarity. When put together, they form a less stable whole that quickly becomes repetitive and unfocused. Director Paul Briganti, himself an SNL veteran having directed numerous segments on the show, admirably maintains the fast-paced Please Don’t Destroy energy from the start, but it soon gets to a point where that energy begins to run out before it reaches the halfway point, leaving the viewer exhausted by its constant hyperactivity. It even starts having an effect on the comedy itself, which builds and builds until you begin feeling overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of jokes at its disposal. By the time our leads come close to nabbing the titular treasure, so many gags have been thrown at you with such potent speed that it’s hard to keep track if the current joke is a callback or something new being introduced at that very moment.

Furthermore, the chemistry between the three leads is solid enough for you to see how well they work in harmony (quite literally, at one point), but it quickly becomes apparent that neither of them, as characters in this movie, have any individuality. They all have the same tone of voice and delivery, which leaves them with indistinguishable personalities that make it hard to tell which one is which without looking their names up. This was also how it went down in the Please Don’t Destroy shorts, but those were designed to only be a few minutes long, whereas a feature like The Treasure of Foggy Mountain needs to have better defined characterizations to sustain a much longer narrative.

It isn’t a total failure of a comedy, for there are a number of very funny parts that just about make it worthwhile, but as a feature expansion of a comedy troupe known for their short-form entertainment, it’s messier than it perhaps ought to be.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain contains quite a few laugh-out-loud comedic moments that’s in keeping with the spirit of the comedy troupe’s viral SNL shorts, but those moments are awkwardly spread out over an extended narrative that doesn’t entirely come together.

Three out of five stars

Other recent reviews:

American Star (2024, dir. Gonzalo López-Gallego)

An aging hitman travels to Fuerteventura for a final mission…

Dune Part Two (2024, dir. Denis Villeneuve)

Paul Atreides leads the Fremen of the desert planet Arrakis on a defiant mission…

Wicked Little Letters (2024, dir. Thea Sharrock)

In 1920s Littlehampton, a series of vulgar letters rock the community…

Perfect Days (2023, dir. Wim Wenders)

A Tokyo toiler cleaner leads a carefully structured life…

Memory (2023, dir. Michel Franco)

A woman has a surprise encounter with an old high school classmate…

Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son (2024, dir. Lorna Tucker)

Filmmaker Lorna Tucker explores the UK’s ongoing homeless crisis…

Bob Marley: One Love (2024, dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green)

Reggae musician Bob Marley rises to prominence throughout the world…

Madame Web (2024, dir. S.J. Clarkson)

A clairvoyant paramedic protects a trio of young women from a mysterious assailant…

The Taste of Things (2023, dir. Trần Anh Hùng)

A gourmet chef is courted by her years-long employer…

The Promised Land (2023, dir. Nikolaj Arcel)

An 18th century Danish officer runs into complications whilst building on uninhabitable land…

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *