Spike Lee started a trend in 2000 with “The Original Kings of Comedy”–suddenly straightforward films of ensemble stand-up comedy shows were in. The latest example features a quartet of earthy down-home types led by Jeff Foxworthy, and it offers a fairly steady stream of laughs. Ron White, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall precede Foxworthy in doing their individual acts before a sellout crowd–each a distinctive presence–and the guys then top it all off by appearing together to close the performance in an easygoing conversation that sort of amounts to an extended curtain call; director CB Harding has captured it all fluently, with nicely varied and edited camerawork by Bruce Finn. The result isn’t especially elegant filmmaking, but it’s surely enjoyable.
Where the picture falls down is in the sequences of the guys strolling around town that are used to separate the stand-up routines. One involves a visit to a spa, another a trip to a Victoria’s Secret in a mall, and so on; in each the guys trade quips and try to upstage each other. Simply put, these episodes are pretty flat; the supposed spontaneity seems calculated, and the jokes have a forced, stilted quality. Without the additions the running-time would have been extremely brief, but there might have been better ways to expand it.
The best advice is to ignore the shortcomings of these interruptions and wait for the on-stage portions of “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” When these four fellows deliver their best material, the picture delivers, too.