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Let's Go to Prison
Everything you always wanted to know about prison, but were afraid to ask
Will Arnett and Dax Shepard Star in the Comedy "Let's Go to Prison".
OPENING WEEKEND: $11,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $52,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

August 4th, 2006: Career felon John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard) is out to get revenge against the judge (Steve Dahl) responsible for sending him to jail, but he has run into a seemingly insurmountable obstacle: the judge is dead. Thanks to the many imperfections in the legal system, however, he gets the next best thing. It appears that Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett), the judge’s despicably wealthy and spoiled son, has been convicted of a crime he did not commit. John is so bent on getting retribution that he cheerfully finds his way right back to prison. He is just itching to get a chance to show Nelson the ropes and when the two actually become cellmates, his most precious wish is granted. Naturally, Nelson is so unaccustomed to the criminal lifestyle that his behavior immediately offends all the wrong people. Soon, John is making deals and selling Nelson to the powerful Barry (Chi McBride), who is looking for a companion on those lonely prison nights. Just when John couldn’t possibly be enjoying himself any more with his victim, a twist of fate turns Nelson into the “Big Man” on the block. Now it’s Nelson’s turn to give John a little taste of his own medicine.

What to Expect: Let’s Go to Prison was written by Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, and Michael Patrick Jann, who are responsible for some truly reprehensible comedy features, like Taxi, The Pacifier, and Herbie Fully Loaded. While those films exemplify gross past miscalculations on their part, their endeavors in television have been far less embarrassing. The three are the co-stars and co-creators of the Comedy Central television program “Reno 911!” For those able to remember back another decade, the trio also collaborated on MTV’s atypical sketch comedy show “The State.” Suddenly, their particular brand of off beat humor, coupled with director Bob Odenkirk’s penchant for the absurd, seems far more appealing. Of course, Odenkirk also first made headlines about a decade ago with his similarly bizarre television sketch parody, “Mr. Show.” Over his many years in the industry, he has also contributed through writing and acting duties on such legendary shows as “Seinfeld,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” Let’s Go to Prison will mark Odenkirk’s second time as a feature film director after he made the highly praised independent comedy, Melvin Goes to Dinner.

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The two lead stars, Shepard and Arnett, offer up a very promising combination as well. There is a certain mischievous twinkle to Shepard that I think should shine through as he takes on the role of a hardened criminal. Yes, this is a comedy, but Shepard has to pose some threat in order to be effective and having seen his stone-faced delivery on the hidden camera celebrity prank show “Punk’d,” I think he can pull it off. Reportedly, there is an unusual swagger to his character and Odenkirk has been lucky enough to get Meg White of the White Stripes to compose an original drum theme specifically to accompany Shepard on screen.

At the moment, I have difficulty coming up with an actor better suited to play the obnoxious Nelson than Will Arnett. He was one of the many highlights of the brilliant, but short-lived series “Arrested Development,” in which he practically epitomized the filthy rich adult brat stereotype. If he plays Nelson with at least half as much gusto, then he will be a major film star come this time next year. I’m hoping that he can redefine the term “arrogance.”

The most fascinating fact about this film is that it is actually based on a book by Jim Hogshire, titled You Are Going to Prison, which is one of those “how to” books along the lines of, say, Windows for Dummies. By taking a realistic look at the prison system, outlining its many serious dangers, and giving suggestions on how to stay out of its everyday traps, Hogshire has crafted a most unique text. It legitimately works as a helpful guide for someone that is going to prison, has the ability to scare criminal inclinations out of the mind of anyone considering the career of a felon, and still remains entertaining and revealing enough for anyone curious enough to read and enjoy. Hogshire has found a subject that is of essential importance to actual inmates, troubled teens, or comedians looking for material. The book is positively harrowing in its depiction of the prison lifestyle, but manages to keep a lighthearted tone, whether it dispenses advice on life in a minimum-security prison or on death row. For anyone looking to minimize his problems during incarceration, pick up this book.

At first glance, Let’s Go to Prison struck me as another thoughtless slapstick imitation comedy, but now I’m looking at it from an entirely different angle. The ingenious source material, the appeal of the lead stars, and the funny and talented group of innovative filmmakers are irresistible. According to early reports, the film is adopting the book’s darkly humorous tone and taking some chances with the perverse subject matter. Let’s Go to Prison will attempt to induce both horror and laughter from the audience by giving a realistic depiction of prison life.

In Conclusion: I don’t think this is going to be another comedy like The Longest Yard, but rather a much more eye-opening account of the prison system, which has been a clichéd movie staple for years now. Personally, I would prefer if they skipped the story altogether and just offered a series of amusing vignettes that outlined the various situations one might run into while in jail – keep the book’s “how to” framework. Overall, I hope this film ends up being in the vein of Bad Santa – creepy, crude, and vulgar, but ultimately very funny. If that’s the case, then it will definitely prove to be too dark for more mainstream audiences, but may gain cult status in the process and become a genuine hit on DVD. I’m actually starting to look forward to this film now.

Similar Titles: Bad Santa, Trading Places, Rat Race
November 17th, 2006 (wide)
March 6th, 2007 (DVD)

Universal Pictures

Bob Odenkirk

Dax Shepard, Will Arnett, Chi McBride, Dylan Baker, Steve Dahl, David Koechner, Michael Shannon, Michael Hitchcock

Total: 32 vote(s).


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Rated R for language, sexual content, some violence and drug material.






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