There’s a montage near the beginning of sci-fi/horror/comedy “Useless Humans,” now available on VOD, where lead character Brian (Josh Zuckerman of “Sex Drive”) has unsuccessfully been trying for years to get his childhood friends Louis (Rushi Kota), Jess (Davida Williams) and Alex (Luke Youngblood) together to celebrate his birthday. They always give him the same response, “This is a bad year.”
The montage concludes with Brian exiting a building, a title card reading “2020” pops up across his chest, he looks to the camera and says, “This is a good year!” I know writers Travis Betz, George Caine, Kevin Hamedani, Stephen Ohl (who also directed) and Ryan Scaringe (It took five dudes to write this?!!!) had no idea what a shitshow 2020 would ultimately be while writing and/or filming “Useless Humans,” but this resulted in the funniest, saddest and most ironic moment of cinema I’ve seen in sometime by complete accident.
As 2020 is a good year, the quartet of compadres meet up at Brian’s parents’ house to celebrate his 30th birthday. Jess brings her boss/boyfriend, Zachary (Joey Kern, who had a real moment in the early aughts playing stoner dickheads in “Super Troopers,” “Cabin Fever” and “Grind”), which bums Brian out as he’s long held a torch for Jess. Zachary’s not the only interloper at the party as an alien (man in suit James Croak) crash lands nearby. Drunk, the pals must get their wits about them if they’re going to survive the night and save the world. They aren’t the only ones trying to quell the alien problem as scientist Wendy (Maya Kazan – granddaughter of Elia, daughter of screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord and younger sister of Zoe) and bounty hunter Chum (Edy Ganem) are also in pursuit.
Performance-wise the standout is Youngblood whose Alex is the craziest of the bunch. He rides a motorcycle, eats magic mushrooms, wears a long sleeve t-shirt with a skeleton hand flipping the bird. The dude’s a hoot and a half. My mind was blown when I found out Youngblood played Quidditch announcer Lee Jordan in the “Harry Potter” movies and Magnitude on “Community” (“Pop! Pop!”). Youngblood is British and nary a trace of his accent could be heard while playing American. Kudos!
Kazan and Ganem aren’t nearly as successful as the movie screeches to a halt whenever their characters are on screen. To be fair these actresses are bad in their roles, but the dialogue the five-man team of writers provided them is worse. They stranded these poor women with nothing worthwhile to work with.
To the filmmakers’ credit, “Useless Humans” does sport an ethnically diverse cast – two black actors, an Indian-American actor and a Latina actress all play major roles – this is rare for a goofy comedy that doesn’t have the names Harold and Kumar in the title. Additionally, there are a handful of really good zingers in the flick. Brian and Zachary get into an argument where they keep yelling, “Pre-fuck you!,” at one another. My wife and I have said this to each other at least a dozen times since watching “Useless Humans.” What are movies for if not assisting you in better insulting your spouse?
There isn’t much to “Useless Humans,” which runs a scant 80 minutes and places a greater emphasis on comedy as opposed to sci-fi or horror. It’s not an especially good movie nor is it a bad one. It’s mostly just entertainingly stupid. If there were more nudity in this thing – and by more I mean any other than a dude’s bare buttocks – “Useless Humans” would be exactly the sort of movie that would’ve been programmed to play on “USA Up All Night” back in the day. As the nudity was always edited out of the “USA Up All Night” movies, “Useless Humans” feels exactly like a “USA Up All Night” movie … it just needed to be periodically interrupted by Spuds MacKenzie Budweiser beer commercials and Life Call ads (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”).