source: NBC

Review: Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain (2023) ****

“You know what movie is so funny but nobody talks about? Popstar by Andy Samberg,” say I, a Millennial, who tends to think SNL was the funniest when I was in my early twenties for some reason.

Ten years from now, we will hear a Z or Zennial saying, “You know what movie is so funny but nobody talks about?” and it will be this, in much the way this will be the funniest-ever era of SNL for them. “Will Farrell? I have no idea who that is. Marcelo Hernandez, on the other hand…”

Funny and well-paced, but somehow unremarkable, The Treasure of Foggy Mountain is one of those comedies most likely to be adored by stoned teenagers for decades to come.

In interviews, the creators said “Treasure” is meant to feel like Goonies, but there’s a special distinction here: This is a view of Goonies that sees Goonies as an ancient classic predating their era, not a Goonies that originated from their childhood. Any of these guys might tell us about how much their parents loved Goonies as a kid, so they watched the DVD rerelease, or something like that.

It feels different.

It’s impressive to keep hold of the viral internet shorts feeling for an entire narrative without getting annoying. I think the pace would satisfy someone used to watching internet playlists for hours instead of movies. But the pacing also slows enough to avoid becoming intolerable for someone patient enough to wait two hours to download a 15mb video clip with the resolution of a potato.

My favorite Gen Z influence is how casually fat women are included in the cast. There is zero acknowledgment, textually or in the director’s vision, of the fact 2/3 of the lead women are fat, and not like Hollywood in the 90s fat where Hugh Grant is snogging a woman with a hint of butt. These two park rangers are just stupid assholes like the three nerdy weeds they’re chasing. Hot, horny, stupid, useless, fat girl park rangers? Have I ever been so represented in a movie before?


It kinda seems like this generation of creators are obsessed with cults.

In “Treasure” Bowen Yang is the cutest most flawless cult leader to walk the Earth, as Bowen Yang is the cutest most flawless anything to play anything any time he shows up. His cult is hilariously scary. This is not the only cult I’ve seen in recent culture, and the more I think about it, the more I can name.

Midsommar was one of the more enjoyable cult movies recently; I posited that Mandy was the nighttime-flavored version of Midsommar. Ready or Not and Get Out give us whole family cults too.

Cult of the Lamb has become a fabulously famous indie game, and I’ve been playing Cultist Simulator for years.

TV shows give us cults all the time, like in Yellowjackets, The Path, Big Love, and American Horror Story Season Whatever.

We live in a time where cults can be so mainstream, the highest grossing movies of the year might star An Actual Cultist, the president might be a cultist, your parents might have gotten turned into cultists, and we have all known multiple people who got sucked into a cult selling candles/soap/makeup/knives/whatever.

Obviously some of the groups I’m bringing to mind aren’t explicitly cults, but rather some kind of socially predatory system that makes folks toxic to be around and may endanger their lives (but almost always their bank accounts).

I’ve got a theory why cult-like presences are so common in America right now, and it’s pretty simple: Humans are social animals that need communities to survive. We are never meant to function independently, or even in small cells (like a couple with a child). We don’t have the tools to do it. But we’re all poor as hell and working way too much to build communities with our neighbors–not to mention, who’s getting along with their neighbors right now? So we just get lonely. Some very basic part of our soul gets sick. And then it’s really easy to take advantage of the sickness.

Predatory megachurches, pyramid schemes, fad gyms, extreme political discussion boards, and other places are happy to sell us a substitute to the communities we might naturally grow if we weren’t always running around playing survivalist games, working long hours to pay medical bills.

So even if we haven’t tripped into one of these cult-like settings, we know people who have, and all of us are curious about wtf that looks like.

That’s my theory anyway.

In The Treasure of Foggy Mountain, the cult exists in the story to replace one character’s sense of community. His friends are growing up and moving on. The one who looks drawn by Tim Burton is joining a church and getting a house with his girlfriend; the one who looks like Conan O’Brien’s son is trying to inherit Conan O’Brien’s business. With nobody else willing to put up with some guy whose penis occasionally escapes his pants in full public view, there is only the not-so-loving arms of a cult to turn to.

In the end, friendship wins, because that’s the whole theme of the movie. This is so explicit that they might have a random character beatbox about friendship and treasures to propel the plot onward. It’s not subtle, but subtlety is overrated.

I’ve wasted a lot more time watching movies with many fewer laughs per minute by SNL alums than this.

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