Akshay Kumar’s latest comedy, Entertainment revolves around a multimillionaire golden retriever of the same name and endorses Vidya Balan’s opinion of movies clicking solely on the basis of “entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.”
Alright then, why not assess its merits on the basis of what entertains and what does not.
1. In the beginning Akshay hams so much, it’s like he’s developed epileptic seizures while undergoing some extreme shock therapy. Few scenes later, he’s reacting to a real one as if to tell me the difference.
Entertainment= 0. Exasperation= 1.
2. Darshan Jariwala dancing to a Shahid Kapoor number and actually getting the steps all right. That’s another fun tribute close on the heels of Salman Khan’s Saat Samundar jig in Kick.
Entertainment= 1. Exasperation=0.
3. Whether one has a taste or tolerance of pedestrian humour or not, there’s no doubt writers turned directors — the sibling duo of Sajid-Farhad – adore commercial movies to the core.
Entertainment is unapologetically filmi in its trappings, treatment, thought — every word uttered by a character is either a reference to a movie or a movie star. (“I Rajni can’t believe it.” “ Iski Shradha Kapoor ka toone Aarti Chabbria kar diya.”)
It’s the kind of arbitrary, bird-brained humour that yanks a forced snicker or two. But an over-animated Krishna Abhishek stretches the shtick too long, MUCH too long, to not get on one’s nerves.
Entertainment= 0. Exasperation= 1.
4. With the appearance of its four-legged titular attraction, one expects some frolic but the famously fun-loving breed is relegated to the sidelines with little to wag about.
As the wealthy heir of a deceased diamond merchant and thereby bone of Akshay’s contention, Entertainment is employed purely for aww value. And so by the virtue of being a cuddly furry-wurry brown ball of cuteness, he gets away with in Krishna-speak both “sympathy and sampathi.”
5. His fellow canine mates, ranging from Bulldogs, Pugs, Alsatians, Rottweiler’s and St Bernard’s, who show up in great numbers to deliver humour that’s literally below the belt, are sad reminders of how animals are regularly used in poor taste even in movies that claim to protect their interests.
6. Speaking of crudeness, Entertainment is no kiddie flick. Unless it’s okay for children to sit through double meaning innuendoes about ‘suhaag raats’ and visuals showing a famished baby mistaking his overweight daddy for his, yikes, mommy.
7. Sajid-Farhad’s over-the-top, unsubtly parodying tone and screechy, rhyming dialogues has long dominated the tittle-tattle of many of their writing assignments. They follow the same principle as directors too.
If only they understood that asking their actors to scream loudly with vigorous expressions till all their veins burst cannot make a joke, already repeated nine times in the movie, any more funnier.
Kudos to Entertainment — played by a golden retriever named Junior, for exhibiting such extraordinary restraint amidst the ensuing cacophony.
Entertainment=0. Entertainment the Dog=1.
8. The plot is basically a series of schemes, where the objective changes from dog to dodos but always leads to a slapstick scenario –people falling off buildings/branches, gulping down poison, getting stabbed by multiple knives (without oozing a single drop of blood) and burning themselves with a hot iron press and still no harm done.
This offers a few droll moments before the monotony quickly sets in.
9. What’s a real relief is that Prakash Raj doesn’t dilate his pupils, Sonu Sood holds back his snarl and Tammana is surprisingly tolerable as the deliberately contrived soap star.
Even if the villains of the Dabangg franchise appear visibly chuffed to play comic book villains with a Karan Arjun fixation, the gag gets tired after a while.
Entertainment: 1. Exasperation=1.
10. Entertainment is best when it isn’t trying to drag laughs out of us with its hopeless attempts at wit. Seriously, a troika of lawyers called Sanjay Leela Bhansali is humorous?
Instead Mithun Chakraborty’s whimsical comic track, where he’s desperately seeking wealthy suitors for her daughter works. Like when he tells his daughter she’ll like the guy he’s picked this time because her favourite colour is yellow and so are his teeth. Juvenile? Yes. Funny? Somehow.
11. What’s nowhere close to amusing? The fan riddle. Is it male or female, Mithunda inquires. He means to ask — Bajaj or Usha. Ugh.
Nor is Akshay’s miserable attempt to recreate Mehmood’s iconic Pyaar Kiye Jaa scene. The whole point is lost if the sound effects are generated synthetically as opposed to the comic legend’s natural voice wizardry.
12. Akshay redeems himself in the second half by relishing Entertainment’s out-dated filmmaking in a tone that is reminiscent of Mr and Mrs Khiladi’s “Bache Ki Jaan Lega?” There’s genuine affection in him for the dog and it lends the otherwise hollow Entertainment a stroke of emotion.
Sajid-Farhad’s first film is mostly a garrulous, occasionally comical farce that intermittently serves as reminder that in the search of “entertainment, entertainment, entertainment” one can always rely on the delightfully loony Johnny Lever.
This review was first published on rediff.com.