TMN Movie Review: "The Fluffy Movie"
on 2014-08-11 12:00
Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: July 25, 2014
Directed by: Manny Rodriguez, Jay Lavender
There was a time in the 1980s when stand-up-comedy movies, films with no plot, just a comedian doing his act for the entirety of the film, were thought to be events. And why not? With acts like Eddie Murphy, George Carlin and Richard Pryor in their primes, a stand-up-comedy film was as buzz-worthy as superhero films are today. It was during this decade of neon and leg warmers that comedian Gabriel Iglesias decided he wanted to make people laugh too. He has steadily risen from a reality show contestant to a bona fide movie star, the culmination of which is his film "The Fluffy Movie."
Superheroes always have an origin story, and though Iglesias is not a superhero, he presents his own origin story at the beginning of the film in the form of a short prologue. Young actor Juliocesar Chavez plays Iglesias as a child, laughing his way through a well-worn VHS tape of the classic stand-up-comedy film "Eddie Murphy Raw." Various other comedians who Iglesias has either worked with or admired, such as Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame and Blue Collar Comedy Tour mainstay Ron White make cameos as well. This introduction is fairly common for this type of film, but Iglesias, or "Fluffy" as he has named himself, keeps it relatively short in order to get to the meat of the film.
After the prologue explains how Iglesias's parents met and how he decided to become a comedian, the film shifts to San Jose, California, the site of one performance from Iglesias's "Unity Through Laughter" tour. He proceeds to do roughly 90 minutes straight of stand-up comedy that goes from mildly funny to hilarious. This is all new material, so long-time fans who have seen his straight-to-DVD fare will not be disappointed. He covers material that includes his ongoing struggle with his weight, his reticence over getting his stepson a mobile phone, and lots of other relatable subjects. The universality of these topics seems tailor-made not to alienate anyone, making Iglesias accessible to a wide audience rather than the somewhat niche audience he has gathered so far.
Parts of the routine feel a bit confessional as well. Iglesias tells the story of how he saw his father for the first time after 30 years, which could easily be heartbreaking. Somehow, he figures out a way to draw the humor from the situation, even if it is a little bittersweet at times. He is careful to balance these moments with more absurd, laugh-out-loud jokes that make for a great mix of comedy and reality.
Many comedians draw from their everyday lives, and Iglesias is no different on that front. From the prologue in the first few minutes to his stories about his family life today, he clearly isn't afraid to be truthful. The problem most comedians have with using their reality as material is that sometimes it's hard to find the humor in the everyday minutiae of life. Somehow, Iglesias not only finds it, he mines it for comedy gold. So much of what he says will be relatable to a mass audience that "Fluffy the Movie" could finally be the catalyst that makes him a household name. He gets into his Latino heritage, but promotes unity (as the name of the tour would suggest) and understanding across all ethnicities. Most of what he says about his stepson and life will be understood by all races and colors, which gives the film a greater chance of becoming a hit.
The total running time of 101 minutes is longer than many comedy films with a script and plot. Most comedians don't do sets this long, lest the audience start to lose focus or grumble. That never happened with the audience seen in the film, and it is almost certain not to happen for the audience watching "Fluffy the Movie." Iglesias is so gosh-darn likable that even if his brand of realistic comedy isn't normally what an audience likes, they will still probably like this film. It's a movie that, if bought on DVD later, could be played at nearly any gathering, and most of the room will very likely relate to some, if not all, of what Iglesias is saying. This can't be said of many comedians, not even Iglesias's beloved Murphy, who was often too raunchy in his stand-up act for some. That's not the case with Iglesias, who can likely make just about anyone laugh. In fact, if laughter really is the best medicine, then Iglesias could be considered a cure due to the nearly universal appeal of his jokes.