Amateur hour (and a half)
‘The Strip’’ has the makings of some sitcom on the F/X network that might follow “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’’ Well, the title does anyway. It feels like a first pass at a pilot, and with all respect to the director and writer Jameel Khan, his cast, and crew, it’s hard to imagine who would pay good money to watch them all try to inject zest into dead jokes and to pin down a consistent tone.
The characters are employees at a Chicago-area strip-mall electronics store several qualitative rungs down from Radio Shack, and they’re a variety-pack of simple-minded and obnoxious man-boys. By dint of his college education and his dad’s ownership of the store, Kyle (Rodney Scott) is supposed to be the least annoying of the bunch, but Khan, making his first movie, has given all the actors only the gist of characters. Kyle is passive, aloof, and trapped in a groaning family-business plot.
The dialogue is embarrassing, and scenes that should take two minutes wind up lasting 10. Not even the comedy veteran Dave Foley, as the store manager, can do much to alter the amateur air, although as the Pakistani nincompoop Avi, Federico Dordei comes closest to creating a feeling person.
The upside of “The Strip’’ is that you may leave with a renewed respect for even the small joys of, say, the Judd Apatow experience. The movie takes the workplace camaraderie of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin’’ and spills beer all over it. “The Strip’’ makes you appreciate what hard work effortless comedy is.