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‘…With the Broken Lizard ensemble playing several roles each, there’s plenty of funny gags, even if things aren’t quite as ‘hilar’ as the King promises…’

‘You nailed his scrotum to a tree stump… what is wrong with you people?’ is a line that captures the timeless Rabelaisian rudeness featured not only in Quasi, a satirical take on the classic Victor Hugo novel and the many screen versions that followed, but also within the Broken Lizard comedy troupe itself. With Super Troopers 3: Winter Soldiers in the far-distant section of the pipeline, the story of the ‘orthopedically challenged’ Parisian bell-ringer drops on Hulu (US) and Disney+ (UK) without much fanfare, but while fans may feel short-changed not to see their favourite returning characters, Quasi finds the Broken Lizard brand is in fine fettle.

Quasi starts with a narration delivered by the BL’s unlikely muse, Scotland’s own Brian Cox, that promises to help the viewer out with navigating history and ‘all that bullsh*t’, offering a simple takeaway that life in pre-revolutionary France generally ‘sucked’. Caught between a selfish pope and a hard-place king is our hero, Quasi Modo (Steve Lemme), or Mr Modo as he’s generally addressed. Quasi works in the torture chamber, but wins a lottery that, rather than rewarding him, leaves him ‘royally screwed,’; the King (Jay Chandsrasekhar) commands Quasi to kill the Pope (Paul Soter) and the Pope commands Quasi to kill the king, so trapped in the middle of history, what’s a hunchback to do?

A willingness to embrace anachronisms is key to enjoying Quasi; those seeking to avoid the plague gather in alehouses to get protection in the form of a ‘Black Death shot’ of alcohol, Pope Week is in full swing, and scenes in a torture chamber are merely a set up for a smooth Carry-On-style exchange like ’ I like your rack…’ followed by ‘…and I yours!’ Targets in Kevin Heffernan’s film include the King’s excess- ‘I hope you like…everything,’ we’re told as a banquet begins, and his rival the Pope is a similarly vain-glorious figure, demanding loyalty and tribute but constantly ‘saying the quiet part out loud’ and wary of public embarrassment for his brand in the marketplace ‘We don’t want to get into that hornets nest.’ he demurs.

‘Mon dieu, that’s great fondue!’ With the Broken Lizard ensemble playing several roles each, there’s plenty of funny gags, even if things aren’t quite as ‘hilar’ as the King promises; Monty Python’s Terry Jones might have enjoyed both the fidelity to history and also the lack of it, and the Pope’s physical weakness and spirituality are neatly connected in the vein of pious figures dating back to Asser’s Life of Alfred- ‘Holy sh_t, I need a holy sh_t.’ There’s also a well-developed routine in which both king and pope find that their whispered orders land badly with their staff, and for my money, Adrianne Palicki steals the show as the smart Queen Catherine; her straight-faced dialogue with poor Quasi gets laughs in the time honoured traditions of Bob Hope, Danny Kaye or Monty Python.

‘What stank laden cloud engulfs your gamy heart?’

‘I cannot say, I am forbidden’

‘Who forbade you?’

‘I cannot tell you, I am forbidden’

‘Who forbade you to do that?’

‘I cannot discuss it, I was forbade’

‘I hear you, but who did the forbaying?’

‘I’m ….I just can’t talk about it…’





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  1. Well that’s a surprise, I could have sworn Cox was from Manchester, loved his Wonders of the Universe. This sounds a bit too weird but I’d give it 10 mins to impress me. Yope.

  2. And who says movies are just churned out POS’s these days? This right here looks like quality cinema, a movie that could save us all, save cinema AND put a colony on mars. And it will freshen up a bathroom.

    Long live cinema!

  3. Ah, Broken Lizard. I guess somebody had to pick up the mantle of Mel Brooks, for better or worse. Mostly worse. Do they chug any syrup in this one?

    • The trick is just to open your throat. But it’s good they they’re not just dining out on past syrupy glory, this is funnier than most Brooks films…

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