Quasi (2023)

45% – Critics
76% – Audience

Quasi Storyline

Follow a hapless hunchback who yearns for love, but finds himself in the middle of a murderous feud between the Pope and the king of France when each orders the hunchback to kill the other.

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Quasi Movie Reviews

Good for what it is…

It’s a silly comedy from the makers of Super Troopers. I laughed out loud a few times and was entertained enough to get through it. It’s a retelling of the life of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, without Notre Dame.

These guys from Broken Lizard usually make decent comedies, and they hit par on this. Don’t be uptight, just enjoy it for what it is. There are some good references and some childish French bashing, as well as, some playful sexual humor.

Production values are passable and direction executed soundly. Could it be funnier? Sure, but I was never bored watching it. It’s streaming on Hulu.

Pretty fun & well done overall, though at times overly cheap & boorish

When Broken Lizard released ‘Super Troopers’ in 2001 it became a big hit in no time, and it put the comedy troupe on the map. Whether or not they fell off the map thereafter is up for debate. None of their subsequent pictures met with the same success; if I’m being honest, after ‘Club Dread’ came out to unexpected silence (I still haven’t seen it myself), I kind of forgot Broken Lizard existed. So for the group to serve up a new film in 2023 begs the question of whether their brand of comedy still holds up, or if they’ve grown and changed in the subsequent years. For that matter, would ‘Super Troopers’ still come off as well now as it did 20 years ago? It’s safe to say I sat to watch ‘Quasi’ with mixed expectations, not least of all given very reasonable concerns of how the titular character himself would be approached. It doesn’t take long to begin forming an opinion, for it turns out that comedy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I can honestly say I do enjoy this, and it’s quite good and well done, proving itself more as the length draws on. At the same time, surely there are other folks who will get more out of it than I do.

The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t think I’m the target audience. I was 16 years old when ‘Super Troopers’ had its wide release in the U. S.; it turns out that Broken Lizard is still probably best suited to teens, or at least those who have the same sense of humor as teens. Gags and jokes based on sex, anatomy, or bodily functions are just boorish and unfunny (even at the climax); outrageousness, silliness, or offensiveness for their own sake – including the exaggerated accents that much of the cast adopts – are tiresome. This is hardly to say that there’s no entertainment value herein, because that’s distinctly untrue. There’s some definite wit and intelligence on hand, and the fun stems directly from those bits that are specifically tied to the plot, the setting, or the particular characterizations. The best jokes or gags come from, for example, Quasi’s employment, or the fraught dynamics between the power players in this heavily fictionalized medieval France; the anachronisms of modern language, cultural concepts, and sensibilities infused into the medieval setting; those ways in which power structures, ableism, classism, sexism, and other sorry truths of our world, and the world of several hundred years ago, are twisted and upended for the storytelling and the humor. More common material such as dynamics between friends, coworkers, and love interests are also inserted sagely into the tale. I mean it when I say there’s a lot to like here; there would be more if the writing passed on the cheap and easy crassness that undercuts the earnest ingenuity.

In so many other regards ‘Quasi’ is very well done. At its best the screenplay is splendid as it plays fast and loose with a historical setting, its politics, and its society, for the sake of both narrative and comedy. (The reveal to come heading into the third act, advancing the story and introducing a romantic element, is a superb example.) The plot is delightfully smart (and, again, the humor that flows from it); the dialogue and scene writing are as sharp as they are cheeky when ideally employed. The sets, costume design, hair, and makeup are truly fantastic, striking and rich with detail. The direction, cinematography, editing, and overall production values are as strong as we’d expect from modern cinema; stunts and effects look great. The cast unreservedly embrace the nonsense, and it’s a blast to see most actors take on multiple roles; I’m personally of the mind that Adrianne Palicki, given notable prominence as Queen Catherine and herself detached from Broken Lizard, gives the best performance in and of itself. Jason Akana’s music is solid.

I’m happy to say this is actually notably better than I anticipated. Its strength builds over time as the plot progresses, and as the comedy attached to that plot gradually becomes more prominent than the lower forms. Would that there were less of that base humor in the first place, or even none – and that ‘Quasi’ didn’t itself employ a tidbit of ableism and play it for laughs. For as capably as this is made and written at large I want to like it more than I do; given those facets that are much weaker, I wonder if I’m not being too kind, and that includes not just the cruder jokes, but in a broader sense, even the resolution of the plot as it just sort of tapers off in the last ten to fifteen minutes. One way or another, however, more than not this is a pretty good time, and worth checking out. It’s hardly an absolute must-see, and it’s recommended above all for fans of Broken Lizard and the high school students in the audience. But if you’re looking for something casually enjoyable, and don’t mind if it’s less than perfect, ‘Quasi’ is a decent way to spend 100 minutes.

What happened to Broken Lizard?

These guys used to be comedy geniuses but this is truly a stinker of a film in all aspects. You can tell they are trying to homage and Americanize Monty Python in many ways with this and it absolutely fails. You can’t take something that was already perfect and try to remold it to fit your own comedy groups image. Aside from that Steve Lemme who plays the main character Quasimodo seems to have modeled his entire character after Adam Sandler’s in Little Nicky right down to the affected accent and mannerisms. This was such a disappointing film and there were no laugh out loud moments in it only a few dry chuckles. I was so let down by this and it’s a sad day when one of the comedy greats put out a DOA flop.