by Rob DiCristino
I consider it a personal insult that I wasn’t notified about Bob Saget’s Benjamin, the first in what will hopefully be a long line of films distributed by Redbox Originals. Okay, so, “Original” might be an overstatement: According to Variety, Redbox has simply purchased a 90-day window of exclusivity on Benjamin rentals, the assumption being that it will be available on other streaming services after that date. But, still! Can I really be that angry? Look at Redbox go! They’ve got a logo card before the opening credits and everything! I mean, how can physical media be dead if my beloved discount DVD kiosk retailer is literally acquiring their own films? Films directed by the likes of Bob Saget! Disney+ had better watch the fuck out. Speaking of which: Has anyone actually used Redbox On Demand? I haven’t, and I’m Redbox’s only customer.
Saget’s publicist says that Benjamin “tackles serious subject matter — our kids and the temptations and challenges they face...through the lens of a familiar cast of comedic actors who make the topic approachable and poignant.” This family intrigue kicks off during the first intervention scene, the one where Corddry’s Dr. Ed (yes, a different Ed) slowly chews food, picks his teeth, and wipes crumbs off his clothes in a medium wide shot. Hey, that’ll kill sixty seconds, right? What about when Dr. Ed tells Not Dr. Ed that he needs to “pretend to be someone else,” and Not Dr. Ed appears a few minutes later in an elaborate magician’s outfit?! He took the advice literally! However, the heartwarming poignancy really crescendos around the thirty-minute mark, when Pollak and Rajskub stand on the porch and fart at each other for — no bullshit — a solid minute and a half. Saget even caps it off by wandering over and announcing, “It smells over here!” Please clap.
And look, I know it’s not like us at F This Movie! to dunk so hard on a little movie like Benjamin, and had it been produced by a young, upstart crew with a dream, I’d certainly be focusing on the positives rather than all the filth and garbage. I’m only taking the piss out of Bob Saget’s film because I’m familiar enough with his work to know that he can take it. I grew up with the guy. He knows as well as I do that Benjamin has what Adam Riske calls “a case of the fuckarounds.” He knows it’s an excuse to make some money and hang out with his friends. Hell, Adam Sandler does it, so why not? There’s also a reasonable chance that screenwriter Joshua Turek was onto something when he envisioned a scenario in which the person being intervened upon sits calmly as his supposed saviors project their hang-ups onto him. Benjamin even has a Silent Bob moment later on that could have been a nice payoff. If, you know, there was a set-up.